Some lawmakers support no election for 2019

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 9) — Some lawmakers expressed their support for House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's proposal not to hold an election in 2019 as the government transitions to federalism.

"May point kasi si Speaker, kung na-craft na 'yan. Bagong Constitution na 'yan. May transitory tayo, kailangan ayusin natin nang maayos ang bagong Constitution," Pampanga Rep. Dong Gonzales.

[Translation: The House Speaker has a point, if that's already crafted. That's a new Constitution. We need to have a transitory government, we need to get that in order for the new Constitution.]

They added they are also willing to stay in their seats until the next election is held in 2022, as Alvarez envisioned.

"We'll try to study it because there is wisdom in what the speaker says," ABS party-list Rep. Eugene de Vera said.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali also said he believes the 2019 elections should be postponed to give the Constituent Assembly more time to revise the Constitution.

Alvarez earlier said that he wants Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly this year and draft a Constitution that may be ratified in a plebiscite on May, simultaneous with the barangay elections.

Umali proposed that due to time constraint, the Constituent Assembly may just revise the transitory provision under the 1987 Constitution to allow for the postponement of the 2019 elections while a new Constitution is being drafted.

Poll postponement self-serving?

On the other hand, House Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chairman Roger Mercado said it would be self-serving to cancel the 2019 elections and extend the term of incumbent local government officials.

"There are some question of morals here and question of sincerity and honesty on the part of the members of the House and the Senate," Mercado said.

However, Umali said the postponement of elections is necessary so the lawmakers can focus on the task at hand.

"This sounds self-serving... i-postpone yung elections on 2019 so that we can finish the task. Kasi kung hindi, eh mangangampanya na kami. 'Pag nangampanya na kami, we might not even muster a quorum to discuss the very important changes in the provisions in the Constitution," Umali said.

[Translation: This sounds self-serving... postpone the 2019 elections so that we can finish the task. If not, then we'll start campaigning. When we start campaigning, we might not even muster a quorum to discuss the very important changes in the provisions in the Constitution.]

Meanwhile, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) Federalism Institute Executive Director Jonathan Malaya said he believes there is no need to cancel an election just because a government is transitioning to Federalism

"It does not follow na just because we have a long transition period, ibig-sabihin walang election... We will slowly implement federalism through phases and we will slowly transfer powers and authorities to the regions," Malaya said.

Malaya also said Alvarez's plan to hold a plebiscite on May is overly optimistic, and that it would be more realistic to instead hold the plebiscite in May 2019, simultaneous with the mid-term elections.