A former congressman who is also a militant leader warned on Thursday that a road is now being paved for President Rodrigo Duterte’s “centralized power” as some government leaders floated the ideas of term extension and a no-election scenario in 2019.
“All roads lead to centralized powers for Pres. Duterte, whether its martial law, revolutionary government or charter change,” former congressman and Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares said in a statement.
“Worse, these roads may get the support of many politicians as a result of the cancellation of the 2019 elections and the wholesale extension of terms of all government officials from the Senators down to councilors,” he added.
Colmenares raised alarm over the pending Resolution of Both Houses (RHB) No. 8, which contains “dangerous transitory provisions” that would allow Duterte to exercise “legislative powers” until the “next” Congress is convened.
“This means that Duterte will be issuing presidential decrees and passing laws well beyond 2019. Strangely, the proposed Federal Constitution (by the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan) does not contain transitory provisions which means that they could put in anything including (no-elections) and term extensions once Congress convenes as a constituent assembly,” Colmenares said.
Colmenares said that if the mode for amending the Constitution is the constituent assembly (con-ass), “it’s a foregone conclusion that Pres. Duterte’s super majority in Congress can craft the new Constitution according to their will.”
“(Charter change), including con-ass, is a threat to the most fundamental freedoms of the Filipino people,” he added.
The former lawmaker disputed the justification that con-ass is the best mode of amending the Constitution because it is the cheapest and most expeditious way.
“For me, Cha-cha is nothing more than an attempt to eliminate protectionist provisions in the constitution and centralize powers to Pres. Duterte. Cha-cha is term extension. It must be opposed,” he said.
Colmenares pointed out that the 16th Congress only passed 74 national laws in three years, with the creation of each law costing around P200 million.
Cha-cha, which is far more complicated than passing laws, the lawmaker said, “will only exacerbate this legislative lethargy.”