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'No-elections' by September or bust – Alvarez

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
'No-elections' by September  or bust â Alvarez
“Before the filing of certificates of candidacy (for next year’s polls),” he answered when asked in a radio interview for his timeline on getting a consensus with senators on his no-elections (no-el) scenario.
Facebook / Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wants the Senate and House of Representatives to agree on scrapping the May 2019 elections in less than three months, or by the end of September.

“Before the filing of certificates of candidacy (for next year’s polls),” he answered when asked in a radio interview for his timeline on getting a consensus with senators on his no-elections (no-el) scenario.          

Officials of the Commission on Elections have earlier told a House hearing that the filing period is Oct. 1 to 5.

Alvarez agreed with his interviewer that it will be difficult to obtain an agreement on his no-el proposal once certificates are filed since lawmakers would already start campaigning.

He insisted that the two chambers of Congress could pass a law postponing the 2019 congressional-local elections by passing a bill to be signed by President Duterte.

This was also the stand Senate President Vicente Sotto III has initially taken. However, Sotto backtracked when Sen. Francis Escudero warned him that postponing the elections beyond May next year could violate the Constitution.

Sotto said he believed that most senators are against Alvarez’s no-el scenario.

The Speaker said scrapping next year’s polls is the only way for Congress to work on the proposed federal constitution that President Duterte is expected to transmit to the Senate and the House next week.

After Monday’s State of the Nation Address, Alvarez said lawmakers would tackle the proposed national budget for 2019 and other measures.

They would have to go on Halloween and Christmas recesses, and start their election campaign in February, he said.

After the elections, the schedule would also be tight for working on the draft federal charter that would shift the nation to the federal system, he said.

He pointed out that the administration would be left with only three years to push for the shift.

That three-year period includes the transition to the federal system, he stressed.

Alvarez claimed that those opposed to his no-el proposal are actually against Charter change and federalism.

 “If you are against the change from a unitary form of government to a federal system, that (opposing no-el) would be the best position to take. Let us have the elections, because they know that after the elections, that (Charter change) is no longer possible,” he said.

If senators do not agree on no-el, Alvarez has floated the possibility of Cha-cha advocates resorting to the people’s initiative mode of amending the Constitution to scrap the 2019 elections.

Contrary to the assertion of some senators, deputy speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said there is already a law providing for the implementation of the initiative mode of doing Cha-cha via a direct petition by voters.

However, he said the law has to be strengthened. He has filed a bill to augment the statute.

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS

NO ELECTIONS

PANTALEON ALVAREZ

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