No Duterte term extension amid ‘no election’ scenario: Alvarez

MANILA -- Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday dismissed the possibility of extending the term of President Rodrigo Duterte amid the "no election" scenario in May 2019 if the country transitions to federalism.

Alvarez also slammed the opposition for sowing confusion over the no election scenario, which he said was only meant to allow a smooth transition to a federal form of government.

Alvarez said President Duterte himself has already ruled out staying in power beyond his six-year term.

Malinaw po ang sinabi ng Pangulo na yung kanyang termino mag-e-end on or before (2022.) Kasi kung kinakailangan niyang mag-resign bago mag-2022 para ang ating bagong Saligang Batas, yung bagong sistema ng gobyerno ay kaya niyang gawin yon (What the President said is clear that his term will end on or before [2022]. Because if he needs to resign before 2022 for the new Constitution, a new system of government, then he can do that), Alvarez said.

Alvarez expressed confidence that the President would honor his word.

Matagal ko ng kilala yan, talagang pagod na rin at kung pupuwede nga lang bukas... (I've known him for so long, he's really tired and if he could do it tomorrow...), Alvarez said.

The Speaker clarified that the no election scenario concerns senatorial elections in 2019.

He said that if the senatorial polls are held in 2019 as originally scheduled, the term of the winning candidates would extend up to 2025.

However, if a new Constitution is ratified in a plebiscite simultaneous with the barangay polls this May, Alvarez said the new structure of government might pose legal complications with incumbent senators whose terms would last up to 2025.

Alvarez proposed that the senators whose terms are expiring in 2019 could be allowed to stay in their post in a holdover capacity during the transition period to a federal form of government or up to 2022.

Among the senators who are up for re-election in 2019 include Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay and Grace Poe.

On the other hand, the second term of Senators Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Legarda, and Antonio Trillanes IV, will expire on June 20, 2019, and as such, they are not eligible to re-election.

The term of the remaining senators, who were elected in the 2016 national elections, will last until 2022.

Alvarez said the 2019 elections for officials of local government units and members of the House of Representatives could still push through since they all have a three-year term, which would expire in 2022.

The Speaker said he would talk with Senate President Pimentel this January to convene Congress into a constituent assembly as soon as possible and start the process of amending the Constitution.

Congress will resume sessions on January 15.

Ngayon, tatapusin namin ng mabilis iyan, at pagdating noong halalan ng barangay elections sa Mayo ay puwede na nating i-submit for ratification sa mga tao, Alvarez said.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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