MANILA, Philippines – In apparent consideration of requirements of the law, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday, January 22, said that he now wants a plebiscite for proposed amendments to the Constitution by May 2019 instead of May 2018.
Speaking on Headstart, Alvarez cited Section 4, Article XVII of the Constitution, which states that a plebiscite on proposed amendments made either through a Constitutional Convention or a Constituent Assembly “shall be held not earlier than sixty days nor later than ninety days after the approval of such amendment or revision.”
Alvarez had previously wanted Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly by January 2018 and a plebiscite to be held by May 2018 or mere months after the Assembly convenes.
The House Speaker has insisted that the House may convene as a Constituent Assembly with or without the Senate’s participation. He insists this is because Article XVII of the Constitution states that “Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members” may propose amendments to the Charter.
He interprets this to mean that the House and Senate must vote jointly. Senators have “unanimously” decided that voting should be separate.
Now that his own schedule has changed, Alvarez said that holding the plebiscite alongside the mid-term elections would make it an “election issue.”
He again denied allegations he was “railroading” Charter Change, pointing out that the voting was not rushed, nor were consultations and hearings for proposals to amend the Constitution.
Interestingly, Alvarez said that he has yet to speak to his counterpart in the Senate, party-mate Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. He said they would do so “this week.”
Alvarez did not give a direct answer when asked what the agenda of the meeting would be, but said: “This federalism is an advocacy of the party. Matagal na yan (Ever since).”
No less than Pimentel’s father, former senator president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr, has been advocating for federalism. A change in form of government has also been President Rodrigo Duterte’s advocacy, even during his days as Davao mayor. – Rappler.com