Both Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez agreed to have the two chambers convene into a constitutional-assembly (con-ass) to discuss the revision of the 1987 Constitution and proposed shift to a federal form of the government.
The two leaders, however, have different timetables on presenting a new charter to the people in a nationwide plebiscite—with Pimentel wanting a plebiscite in 2019 while Alvarez preferring it to be held this May.
In an interview on Monday, January 8, Pimentel disclosed that he will be filing a resolution this week calling for the Senate and the House of Representatives to sit as a con-ass.
“It’s a resolution calling for the Senate to sit together with the House of Representatives as a constituent assembly for the purpose of revising the 1987 Constitution, specifically to study the adoption of a federal system of government,” the Senate president said.
Pimentel, who is also the president of the ruling Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party which advocates federalism, said the resolution will be filed before the Senate resumes its session on January 15.
Asked if his resolution would include a term extension and holdover capacity, Pimentel answered in dissent as he pointed out that public would most likely reject it.
Pimentel also said he expects the Senate and the House to come up with a draft charter by the end of 2018, with the plebiscite to be held at the same time as the 2019 elections.
“[The draft proposal should be done] in less than a year so that by January 2019, what is being deliberated and being explained to the public is the final draft, which will be subject to a plebiscite [in May 2019],” he said.
The Senate president further reiterated that the 2019 midterm elections will proceed as stated in the current 1987 Constitution.
“Hangga’t hindi magbago yan, lahat ng scheduled elections in the 1987 Constitution must be held, pero pag magbago yan, there is a new Constitution, yung schedule ng new Constitution ang masusunod (Unless the 1987 Constitution is revised, scheduled elections will proceed. But if amended, we’ll follow the schedule under the new Constitution),” Pimentel added.
Last week, Alvarez cited the possible cancellation of the 2019 midterm elections as part of the anticipated transition to a federal system.
Noting that the senators have different term expirations, the House speaker remarked that it is only practical to extend their terms of senators who were elected in 2013 until 2022 for a transitory period.