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People’s Initiative just to cancel the elections?

After his proposal to cancel the 2019 elections to give Congress, he said, more time to approve a new constitution around a federal form of government, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez came up with a new proposal – revision of the Constitution to change the terms of public officials via People’s Initiative, with the ultimate goal of cancelling the 2019 elections.

This too has been quickly shot down by senators, who cannot understand the seeming obsession to cancel the 2019 elections, so that Alvarez would go to the extent of launching a people’s initiative to do it.

It would be worthwhile, however, for the people to know about the People’s Initiative as one form of revising the Constitution. This is provided for in Section 2, Article XVII, Amendments or Revisions, in our present Constitution:

“Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of a least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein…. The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.”

In the first place, this way of revising the Constitution is a long and difficult process. First, every legislative district in the country must have a least 3 percent of its voters approving the proposal. This means a gathering of signatures, which must then be verified by the Commission on Elections. Then the total number of signatures must be those of at least 12 percent of all the registered voters of the Philippines.

But why go to all this extent just to reduce the terms of office of senators and congressmen, so they need not complete their terms of office on June 30, 2019, so the 2019 elections can be canceled, so Congress can have more time to draft a federal constitution? A people’s initiative will simply prolong the process with so much time spent gathering and verifying signatures. Very likely, some congressmen just do n’t want to face their electorate in an election.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the move for a People’s Initiative needs Senate approval, quoting the constitutional provision “The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.” And many other senators have spoken out against it, even Alvarez ’s fellow PDP-Laban official Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III who sees it as a burdensome process.

“Quite frankly,” said Sen. Francis Escudero, “I don’t know why he seems so obsessed with postponing the election when neither the people nor the Palace supports such postponement.” It is a question asked by so many other people since Congress can very easily approve a new Constitution within the next ten months without having to cancel the next election of congressmen and senators.

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