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Drilon bucks proposal to extend terms

July 26, 2019

THE House of Representatives’ Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 1, seeking a longer term for congressmen and other local officials and shortening the six-year term of senators, would require an amendment to the Constitution, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

The senator said a mere resolution could not amend the 1987 Charter.

Cagayan de Oro City Second District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed HCR 1, which, among others, proposes to extend the three-year term of congressmen and local officials to four years and reduce the term of senators to only four years.

“The proposal would require an amendment to the Constitution, either through a constitutional convention or a constitutional assembly,” Drilon said.

“It’s a shame to even talk about it when we just opened the 18th Congress. Instead of diligently working on measures to uplift the lives of 25.2 percent of Filipinos living below the poverty line, you are talking about staying in power,” he added.

Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd slammed HCR 1. “Bakit ba mainit sila sa Senate (Why are they so focused on the Senate)? At the rate some people are focusing on the Senate, the more the senators will stonewall. That’s my fearless forecast. [Why don’t you] compare the ratings of the HoR (House of Representatives) and the Senate, then tell me if we need changing?” Sotto said in a text message.

Drilon said the Senate minority bloc would oppose any attempt to change or amend the Constitution.

“We will oppose it. Instead of wasting the very limited time of Congress on Cha-cha (Charter change), let us focus on the pressing problems like lack of jobs, hunger and poverty, which we can address through ordinary legislation,” he added.

Drilon said Section 1 of Article 17 of the Constitution states: “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or constitutional convention.”

He earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte’s “silence on federalism in his fourth State of the Nation Address indicated that Charter change was not a priority of the Duterte administration anymore.”

Rodriguez said the measure that he filed seeks to amend the 1987 Constitution by raising the number of senators in office, appointing them according to their regions and providing an equal number of years and terms in office for congressmen, senators and elected local officials.

The lawmaker wanted to raise the number of senators from 24 to 27. The senators shall then be divided into three, coming from the nine regions: National Capital Region,

Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“We want a representation of regions because the senators, almost all of them come from Manila, so we want [each region] to have its own representatives to be able to work for the interest of every nine regions,” Rodriguez said in a television interview.

Under Section 7 of the bill, members of the House of Representatives may be elected for an additional year, but will also be limited to three consecutive terms.

Meanwhile, Section 8, Article 10 will allow all elective local officials to serve four years for three consecutive terms. The current provision exempts barangay (village) officials from serving for three three-year terms.

“We want to also change the term of office. Three years is too short to implement the programs for us in Congress to put up legislation. But the term limits continue, same with congressmen and [local officials],” Rodriguez said.

With a reports from GLEE JALEA

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