FOR Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Charter change should be now or never.
In a radio interview, Alvarez reiterated that the only way to focus on Charter change is by postponing of the 2019 elections.
“Kailangan nating mag-focus sa Cha-cha. So kung halimbawa, pinagpaliban natin ang halalan fo 2019, pagkatapos naming pag-usapan ang budget, kaagad-agad isasalang namin yan. Wala na kaming ibang gagawin kung hindi pag-usapan iyan,” Alvarez said.
According to Alvarez, Congress has only before October to decide whether or not to postpone the 2019 mid-term elections.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set October 5 as the start of the filling of certificate of candidacy for May 2019 elections.
“Sa October kapag nag-file na ng candidacy, ang hirap nang kumuha ng quorum. Talagang busy na ang mga Congressman as panahon na ganyan,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez added that Congress needs at least six months to amend the Constitution.
The House of Representatives has approved a measure convening Congress into a Constituent Assembly. Pending in the Senate is its own version.
“Kung yung Constitutional Commission ay inabot ng apat na buwan para gawin yan, siyempre sa Kongreso, sa tingin namin siguro pinakamaaga naming magagawa iyan mga six months,” the House leader added.
In the same interview, Alvarez, who is also secretary general of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), reiterated that if the Senate would oppose the Constituent Assembly, then he will propose another way, which is people’s initiative to amend the Constitution.
Alvarez said anti-federalism forces are capitalizing on unfounded fears against his proposal to scrap the mid-term elections in 2019.
After the 2019 elections President Rodrigo Duterte would have a little over two years remaining in his term which is not enough to approve a new charter and allow a proper transition period to the new federal government, according to Alvarez.
“That is why those who are against the move to change from a unitary to a federal form of government that would be the best position to take: let’s have an election and attend to that (Charter change) after the election. They know very well that it would not be possible,” Alvarez said.
Earlier he noted that among the candidates in the 2016 presidential elections it was only Duterte who proposed a shift to a federal form of government.