There is a big possibility that the election in 2019 will not push through as scheduled.
This was the categorical statement issued by Rep. Rene Relampagos after the House started to deliberate on the proposed resolution having Congress as a constituent assembly (Con-ass) to make amendments to the Constitution.
The Bohol solon said during the last day of their session last Dec. 13, Congress leaders were already set to stage this year for the proposed switch to a federal system while the majority of the 292 congressmen are expected to support the move of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte for a federal form of government.
He said that during the session, the House opened plenary debates on the measure adopting Con-ass as the mode by which the Constitution would be amended or revised to switch to a federal form of government.
Relampagos said that the direction is to hold a plebiscite in May together with the holding of the barangay elections.
However, reliable sources said that if ever the barangay polls will again be postponed, then it is the “clearest indication” on the next move to put off the national and local elections in May 2019.
Rep. Relampagos admitted that the deliberation on the proposed resolution is expected to snowball quick and fast since a majority of the solons are wanting to show their support to Pres. Duterte.
Given this scenario, there is a “very big possibility” that there would not be an election (No-el) to be held in May next year, Rep. Relampagos said.
The move is expected to generate support since it will favor the incumbent officials for an extended term of office, he said.
However, even if the majority of the solons will adopt the resolution, it will not be legally binding as the Senate has to approve the same, the solon explained.
If the Senate’s decision is not identical with the House, then the matter will likely reach the Supreme Court for the final decision.
REP. YAP’S VIEWS
For his part, Rep. Arthur Yap told the Chronicle that he could not read for now the direction on this proposed resolution sponsored by Leyte Rep. “Oging” Mercado as chair of the House committee on amendments.
He believes the Duterte administration will still have to closely “listen” on how the people will react on this planned shift to a federal form of government.
In fact, the recent public reaction to the reported increase in prices of commodities, including fuel is a factor to be considered by the present administration.
Rep. Yap, in a separate interview with the Chronicle openly said he favors a Charter change seeing the present form of government as “very inefficient.”
The Bohol solon likewise said he sensed the “seriousness” of the House for the proposed resolution to be a constituent assembly.
Yap said the Constitution identifies three ways by which it may be changed or revised: by Congress acting as a constituent assembly, by constitutional convention (Con-con) of elected delegates, or by a people’s initiative through a petition by 12 percent of the electorate.
Under the con-ass, Yap said, the Senate and the House, acting as one body may introduce and approve changes to the Constitution by an absolute three-fourths vote and subject to a national plebiscite.
This is not a tall order since he observes the majority of the senators are now in consonance with what the House will continue to deliberate once session resumes by Jan. 15.
Both Rep. Relampagos and Rep. Yap are serving their last terms as congressmen of the first and third districts, respectively.
The two last termer solons are both being groomed to run for governor, a post to be vacated by the last termer Gov. Edgar Chatto.
If elections push through next year, the two last termer solons are closely being monitored on their political decisions. However, a highly placed source revealed that Relampagos and Yap will never clash in an election.
There are reports that the two might run in tandem for governor and vice governor.
Another scenario is for Relampagos to run for governor while Yap gets an appointed Cabinet position under the Duterte administration.
Presently, of the three Bohol congressmen, Yap is the lone solon to have been officially accepted by the Duterte administration. As chair of the House committee on economic affairs, Rep. Yap has been with the entourage of Pres. Duterte to the various state visits.
Officially, Yap who used to be identified with the Liberal Party locally under former Pres. Aquino, has recently allied with the administration’s Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP-Laban) together with former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.