Drilon: No-election scenario unlikely in May 2019

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(File photo) Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 7) — Senator Franklin Drilon doubts a no-election scenario will happen in 2019.

In a radio interview Saturday, Drilon said he trusts his colleagues will be "decent enough not to agree to a 'no-el' or term extension," because doing so would be in "conflict of interest."

"Tayo po ay may tiwala sa ating mga kasama sa Senado that they have moral standing not to be tempted to vote for this amendment," he said. 

[Translation: I have faith in my colleagues in the senate that they have moral standing not to be tempted to vote for this amendment.]

Drilon, the Senate Minority leader, said at least five senators will benefit from such a scenario as their two terms are almost up.

Under the Constitution, the term of office shall be six years, and no senator must stay in office for more than two consecutive terms. While lawmakers at the House of Representatives shall have a three-year term, for three consecutive terms.

RELATED: No election scenario looms amid push for federalism

To postpone the elections and extend the terms elected officials would need Constitutional amendment, and which must be ratified in a plebiscite. Drilon said it is unlikely that would happen before the next elections in May 2019.

He said they will be busy with the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno once the case reaches the Senate, reportedly in May.

"For the rest of they year, the remaining six months of 2018, we cannot do anything so I cannot see kung paano namin aamyendahan ang Saligang Batas, which is controversial. I can't see kung paano isasabay sa halalan sa May 2019. Hindi ko nakikita. Hindi talaga magagawa," he said.

[Translation:For the rest of the year, the remaining six months of 2018, we cannot do anything so I cannot see how we can amend the Constitution, which is controversial. I can't see how we can work on it alongside the elections in May 2019. It can't be done.]

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has floated the idea of a no-election scenario when he said the Congress will be prioritizing the shift to a federal system this year. He said the shift will require a transition period.

Drilon, however, said Alvarez cannot speak for the Senate. He also lamented how the House Speaker seems to be attacking the Senate.

There used to be inter-chamber courtesy, Drilon said, where differences were settled privately.

"Sa akin, this demeans the Senate as an institution of democracy. Ito po ay nakakatakot dahil ang check and balance ay bahagi ng demokrasya at ang check and balance within the House and the Senate, iyan po ay isang bahagi ng ating demokrasya," Drilon said.

[Translation: For me, this demeans the Senate and an institution of democracy. This is scary because check and balance is part of democracy and the check and balance between the House and the Senate is part of our democracy.]

Drilon also called on on Senate President Aquilino Pimentel to make a stand.

"Regardless of one's political affiliation, the higher obligation of the Senate President is to defend the Senate as an institution of democracy," he said.

Drilon also said the Senate has yet to receive a proposal on the federal system.

"This is something very complicated. Hindi pwedeng basta-basta na lang na kapag isinubo ay kailangang aprubahan [It cannot be approved just like that]. I challenge Malacañang, tell us if you have submitted officially anything to the senate. Walang [There is no] official position from Malacañang on federalism," he said.

RELATED: What is Federalism?

A unitary form of government under a federal setup was one of President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign promises. He has since called for charter change to pave the way for federalism.

Under federalism, the country will be divided into autonomous regions or states. Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, has said federalism would bring lasting peace in Mindanao, whose leaders have been pushing for an autonomous Bangsamoro region.

READ: Senate President pushes for constitutional reform, federalism

CNN Philippines senior digital producer Pia Garcia contributed to this report.