Reelection prohibition violates democratic principles: ConCom

MANILA -- All incumbent elected officials, not just President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who can no longer run in 2022 because of term limits, may be able to seek another term in 2022, the Consultative Committee (Concom) tasked to draft the proposed new charter said Sunday.

ConCom senior technical assistant and spokesperson Ding Generoso explained that democratic principles applied in writing any constitution constrained the ConCom from including a provision that will bar particular persons from taking part in the 2022 elections.

It would be undemocratic, discriminatory, and it would constitute class legislation and infringement of the people's right to choose their representatives and leaders to do so, Generoso said in a press statement sent to media on Sunday.

The Constitution or any other law cannot have a provision that bars a particular individual from enjoying the rights and privileges that the constitution or law confers on all, he added.

According to Generoso, the Constitution sets the qualifications and disqualifications that apply to all and not to any particular individual.

Generoso further said that singling out one or a few persons would not only be undemocratic and discriminatory, but also constitutes class legislation and violates the people's sovereign right to elect their representatives and leaders.

This is the reason, he said, that the framers of the 1987 Constitution did include a provision barring then President Corazon Aquino from running in 1992.

This is also the reason that the 1973 Constitution, and the 1939 amendments to the 1935 constitution did not contain any provision barring then Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Manuel Quezon from running for a fresh term.

Under the 1987 Constitution, Duterte, all senators who have served two six-year terms, all members of the House of Representatives who have served three terms, all governors, vice governors, provincial board members who have served three terms, all mayors, vice mayors, city and municipal councilors who have served three terms, all barangay chairpersons and councilors who have served three terms are barred from seeking reelection in 2022.

Generoso said that following the principle of equality before the law and equality before the Constitution, if a provision is to be written to bar the incumbent President from running, the provision should include all the above officials who are already barred under the 1987 Constitution from running in 1992.

Fresh start

In the 1987 Constitution, Generoso said there is no provision that barred then President Corazon Aquino from running in the 1992 national elections.

He explained that in fact, Section 5 of the Transitory Provisions extended the term of then President Aquino to up to June 30, 1992 solely for the purpose of synchronizing the elections.

Moreover, Generoso emphasized that it was solely the personal decision of Aquino not to run in 1992.

Generoso said that the adoption of a new Federal Constitution will result in a fresh start for all.

It is not the ConCom's desire or anybody's desire but it is the natural consequence, the natural effect of a a new Constitution and a change in the system of government, Generoso said.

No term extension

Generoso, meanwhile, stressed that the ConCom's proposed Federal Constitution explicitly states that the term of the incumbent President and Vice President shall not be extended.

The Concom draft explicitly provides under Section 6 of the Transitory Provisions that 'The term of the President and Vice President, which shall end on June 30, 2022, shall not be extended,' Generoso said.

Duterte himself has repeatedly said that he would step down as soon as federalism is in place.

Last Friday, he urged the ConCom and Congress to make changes in the draft Federal Constitution providing his term as co-terminus with the beginning of the draft law.

Duterte wanted an election of a new president during the transition from unitary to a federal form of government.

Make final the changes and make me president only next year--2019. I would be willing to accept the proposal, Duterte said during the 2018 National Science Week opening in Davao City.

"Sorry to disappoint you. Excuse me," he said to critics and the opposition accusing him of wanting to stay in power with federalism in place.

Concom has already approved the draft Federal Constitution and is expected to submit the proposal to the President on Monday (July 9). (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency