Bait and switch

By: Editorial July 18,2018 - 09:36 PM

Stringent opposition from the Senate majority bloc on moves to railroad Charter change and a shift from a presidential to a federal form of government are being met with a multi-pronged approach by the administration, with the latest aimed at easing the fears of those who suspect that a Duterte dynasty is in the offing.

In the so-called “final, official” report submitted by the committee tasked to make recommendations to Charter change, there are provisions in place that would bar President Rodrigo Duterte from running for the presidency under the federal setup.

What’s more, the report stated, a transition president and vice president will facilitate the conduct of elections for the presidency and vice presidency that will be held six months after the ratification of the new federal charter and system of government.

But wait, the proponents said, it gets even better; President Duterte cannot even run for the post of transition president while Vice President Leni Robredo can. In fact, they said, Robredo can run for the presidency for elections under the federal system of government tentatively scheduled on 2022.

Here’s the catch; that proposal hinges on a no-el or “no elections” scenario next year. And the clincher which comes courtesy of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is that Congress convenes into a constituent assembly to deliberate on the committee recommendations which they can include or reject outright.

Even granting such conditions, the mere idea of Alvarez and now Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III—if ever the Senate does get involved in the Charter deliberations which based on the rule of numbers under the constituent assembly renders them inutile—presiding over deliberations is enough to trigger alarm sirens throughout the country.

And Filipinos would probably see firsthand these congressional deliberations for Charter change as soon as President Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) next week if reports about Congress immediately convening afterward are to be believed.

In essence, President Duterte isn’t too concerned about surveys which showed that a majority of Filipinos are opposed to Charter change and are either unaware or are lukewarm to a shift to a federal government.

Despite Palace assurances that next year’s elections will push through, Alvarez’s pronouncements state otherwise. Though the Palace will likely respond that they are hands off with any Congress initiatives, only an idiot or the totally naive will ignore the fact that the Duterte administration controls a supermajority in the Lower House.

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