MANILA Senate President Vicente Tito Sotto III on Thursday said those pushing for the cancellation of the 2019 midterm elections must clearly explain first to senators the necessity of the proposal.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier floated the possibility of a "no-el"(no election) scenario for 2019 for Congress to focus on Charter change and the country's shift to federalism.
Alvarez suggested that this could be done by amending the constitutional provision requiring elections every three years through people's initiative.
That is the reason why perhaps I am not supportive of the proposal. Why is there a need? I think that is the question that needs to be answered, Sotto said during the regular Kapihan sa Senado forum.
Why do we need no-el? Please explain it to us, maybe you will convince majority of the senators to support it if you can explain it, he added.
Sotto said he opposes the proposal of amending the Constitution through a people's initiative because it lacks an enabling law.
There was a law that was passed but was struck down by the Supreme Court and it was deemed inadequate, Sotto said.
He was referring to Republic Act 6735 (People's Initiative and Referendum Act) which was passed in 1989.
While its intent was to propose amendments to the Constitution, RA 6735 was struck down by the High Court because it was incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned.
Sotto said Congress has to address first the inadequacies mentioned by the SC to come out with an enabling law that will be constitutionally compliant.
He warned that pushing for a people's initiative to cancel the 2019 elections without the enabling law would result to massive vacancies in government posts from the local to the national level.
Sotto said this would happen in the event that proponents managed to force the cancelation of the midterm elections through an unconstitutional people's initiative.
The SC would strike it down for sure. This is not allowed in the Constitution, he said.
So when it is struck down, at tapos na yung 2019 election period at hindi nagkaroon, ang matitirang public officials sa gobyerno ay presidente, vice president at 12 senador. Lahat wala na, Sotto said.
(When it is struck down, and the 2019 election period is over and there were no elections, the only public officials left would be the president, vice president and 12 senators.)
The Constitution does not allow for the automatic extension of the terms of the incumbent officials, he added.
And even if President Rodrigo Duterte is allowed to appoint local officials in a "no-el" scenario, Sotto noted that the sheer number of vacancies will make it impossible.
"There are a thousand positions in the government that has have been filled up by the executive. Then there would have vacancies in 1,800 cities and municipalities.. I don't think that's possible," he said.
Sotto said it is the sense of the Senate to oppose the postponement of the 2019 elections.
I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I have yet to hear from a member of the Senate who agrees to that particular people's initiative or other forms of extending the terms of officials, Sotto said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency