In pushing for Charter change and federalism, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his allies in Congress have betrayed their true intentions to the public which is to remain in power beyond their terms next year.
Alvarez started the year with a poke and swipe at Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III whom he blamed along with fellow senators for being a “slow chamber” for not passing enough laws submitted to them by the Lower House.
Then came the flurry of announcements in which Alvarez and his allies are moving rather quickly to convene a Constituent Assembly that will combine both Senate and Congress in proposing and passing amendments to the 1987 Constitution with the ultimate goal of replacing the current system with a federal form of government.
Deliberations for constitutional amendments in the Senate will start next week, and the lawmakers in Congress appear to be moving heaven and earth to expedite the process and force the Senate to agree to a constituent assembly.
This is when the Senate should stand up and actually slow down Congress in its attempts to railroad Charter change and force down federalism into their throats and into the throats of every Filipino, most of whom are apathetic to Charter change as admitted by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
Slowly but surely, the noise barrage for federalism and Charter change will grow louder with each passing week. But we trust that old hands in the Senate aside from the political opposition will step up and make their voices heard.
Among them is Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who voiced doubts that Congress can convince even their allies in the Senate to agree to a constituent assembly that will pass amendments ahead of next year’s elections.
Ah, it is next year’s elections in which the proponents of Charter change have laid bare their true intentions which every right-minded Filipino, regardless of one’s political beliefs, have known since the earliest previous attempts to amend the Constitution decades ago.
One by one, the administration allies admitted that by submitting their proposed federalized constitution to a referendum they should in effect be allowed to stay beyond their terms of office in a holdover capacity along with President Duterte.
In fact, including their ringleader Alvarez, they want President Duterte to remain beyond 2022 and wield lawmaking powers similar to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, thereby surrendering part if not all their authority to him in hopes of simply staying in power.
We hope that despite their alliance with the administration that Pimentel and other senators would think twice and reject the attempts by Congress to convene into a constituent assembly in order to railroad federalism and Charter change.