Senators stood their ground on Wednesday against any attempts to postpone the 2019 elections – now popularly known as “No-el” or no elections scenario – even through a peoples initiative being pushed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Senator PanfiloLacson said the majority of senators, even those running for re-election, will fight “tooth and nail” in a bid to block such a move.
Lacson pointed out that any amendments to the 1987 Constitution, either by way of a constituent assembly, a constitutional convention or a people’s initiative, would require the Senate’s participation.
In the particular provision of the Constitution on people’s initiative, the senator pointed out the phrase which reads: “The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.”
“Nothing could be clearer,” Lacson said in a statement.
“It goes without saying, the majority of the senators, even those running for re-election, will fight tooth and nail any attempt to cancel the 2019 midterm elections simply because it is wrong and self-serving,” Lacson added.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also thumbed down the Speaker’s proposal.
Recto said the Speaker can push for people’s initiative but said it was not going to be a real people’s initiative “but a Speaker’s initiative or political elite initiative.”
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, meanwhile, was puzzled by Alvarez’s seeming “obsession” to postpone the election.
“Quite frankly, I don’t know why he seems so obsessed with postponing the election when neither the people nor the Palace supports such postponement,” Escudero said in a text message.
He also expressed doubt whether the proposed people’s initiative could be done before the 2019 polls.
Escudero explained that a people’s initiative must get the signatures of at least 12 percent of the total registered voters and each signature, he said, must be verified by the Commission on Elections before a referendum can be scheduled.
The referendum, he said, could also be questioned before the courts “if it is indeed sufficient in form and substance.”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the people’s initiative meant to scrap the election was not only a waste of resources but would further divide the country into a “deeper political abyss.”
“The electoral process is a fundamental tenet of democracy. It’s the period when the electorate is empowered to choose their own leader who they think best represent their beliefs and ideologies,” Gatchalian said in another statement.
“The people’s initiative to postpone the 2019 elections will just be a waste of resources and it will also further divide the country into a deeper political abyss,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said the opposition group in the Senate is ready to go to the Supreme Court should Alvarez’s pushes through with his proposal. /muf/ac