House panel discreetly OKs reso extending terms of local execs, congressmen, senators
MANILA, Philippines — A committee of the House of Representatives has discreetly approved a resolution relaxing the economic restrictions in the 1987 Constitution and extending the terms of local government officials, congressmen and senators to five years and three terms.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said four members of the constitutional amendments committee opposed the approval but they were overruled by 10 others during an executive meeting of the panel on Wednesday afternoon.
“Ipinasa na ng komite kahapon ‘yung pagbabago sa mga major na economic provision sa Saligang Batas (Changes in the major economic provisions of the Constitution were passed by the committee) by simply having the phrase unless otherwise provided by law,” Zarate said in a press conference Thursday.
“Lalabas nito, this is a Cha-cha (This, in effect, is Charter change) by legislation. Hindi naman ito nakalagay sa ating Saligang Batas (This is not allowed under our Constitution). This is a very dangerous action,” he added as they vowed that the Makabayan bloc would oppose this before the plenary discussions.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro added that also included in the panel-approved proposed law were provisions extending the terms of local officials and Congress members to five years subject to three consecutive reelections.
At present, a senator can serve for six years and run for two consecutive times, while congressmen and local elected officials can serve for three years and three consecutive terms.
The resolution also provides the election of the President and Vice President in tandem, as well as increasing the number of senators from 12 to 27, or three per region.
The nine regions were identified as the National Capital Region, Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
The still unnumbered resolution of both Houses specifically seeks to amend Articles VI, X, XII, XIV, and XVI of the 1987 Constitution. The proposals will have to be approved by 3/4 House and Senate members, voting separately.
Zarate said the committee will take-up the shift to a federal form of government next year. He said the terms of local officials were included in the revision of the economic provisions to “make it palatable to them.”
The meeting was not opened to the public and media for “smoother discussion,” according to Zarate.
The measure will have to be endorsed by the committee on rules for plenary debates. It needs to undergo second and third reading approvals in the House and also has to be approved by the Senate. The House only has three session days left next week before they adjourn for their Christmas break. They will return on Jan. 20, 2020.
The move of the committee is contrary to previous pronouncements of Speaker Alan Cayetano and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez that the chamber would not prioritize Cha-cha and the shift of to federalism, which is a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Read the copy of the resolution provided by the Makabayan bloc here:
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