“Hindi pup’wede na walang eleksyon. Pangit ‘yon, pangit, pinakapangit [There can’t be no election. That’s ugly, ugly, the ugliest thing].”
Former senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. said this on Thursday, July 19, when asked by dzRH’s Henry Uri on his position regarding Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s proposal to scrap the 2019 mid-term elections to give time to lawmakers to work on the proposed Charter change (Cha-cha) that would pave the way for the country’s shift to a federal form of government.
Alvarez said that if the Senate and the House of Representatives would not agree to defer the polls, he and his allies at the lower chamber would initiate a people’s initiative so voters would be able to directly propose a constitutional amendment to postpone the elections.
But Pimentel, vice chairperson of the Transition and Amendments panel of the Consultative Committee, which was formed by President Rodrigo Duterte to craft a new constitution that would establish a federal system of government, countered that the public might think that the purpose of Cha-cha would be to extend the terms of incumbent elective officials through no-el (no elections).
“‘Yon ang pinaka-ayaw kong mangyari…Ba’t naman kailangang i-postpone ‘yon?…Pagdududahan tayo ng tao…’yon pala ang dahilan… [That’s the thing I don’t want to ever happen…Why should it be postponed?…The people would doubt our intention…they might think that it’s the purpose of Charter change…],” he said.
In a radio interview last Wednesday, July 18, Alvarez insisted that unless there would be no-el next year, Congress would have no more time to tackle Cha-cha.
“If we delay it further, we would not be able to do it until the end of the term of President Duterte,” said Alvarez.
But Pimentel thinks Congress has enough time to work on Cha-cha even if the midterm polls push through next year.
“(M)eron pa namang more or less apat na taon na naiwan sa termino ni Digong [There’s still more or less four years left in Duterte’s term],” the former senator said, adding that the process towards shifting to a federal form of government could be completed by the year 2021.