People’s initiative, option for poll postponement: Alvarez

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday said aside from legislation, another alternative to postpone the 2019 midterm elections is an amendment of the Constitution through People’s Initiative (PI).

In a statement, Alvarez said citizens supporting federalism can initiate a PI to amend the constitutional provision mandating the conduct of elections every three years.

“That can be done; we have already studied that alternative,” Alvarez said, noting that this option could be considered if the Senate does not agree to the possible poll postponement.

He reiterated that postponing the 2019 elections is the “most practical” way of achieving the push for Charter change.

With the elections postponed, Alvarez said Congress can focus on its work of finalizing the draft of the proposed federal charter.

The House Speaker said they may still proceed with proposing amendments to the Charter even without the Senate.

“It would be better if the Senate and the House can agree on this matter. But if not, I hope this would not happen, we can simply proceed with the task of deliberating on the draft through a constituent assembly (con-ass), get the required three-fourths vote and then we submit it to the people for ratification through a referendum,” Alvarez said.

In a press conference, Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia echoed Alvarez’ sentiments on poll postponement, stressing that there are “certain realities” such as a tight schedule and other priorities that have to be considered.

She said the deliberations on the 2019 budget, the filing of certificates of candidacy in October, and the start of the campaign period next year are among the factors that would hinder the House form achieving a quorum to deliberate on the proposed Charter change.

“Speaker Alvarez has reiterated for practicality, purposes the real challenge and difficulty that exists in pushing through Charter Change. When in fact, when we shall start our third regular session, we will have to tackle the budget, other pending legislative measures and there is the complication of an election in 2019,” she said.

“Where in filing of certificates of candidacy would have to be done by October, how can we still expect a quorum? That is a reality. So the Speaker is looking at the next months that will comprise the third and final regular session of the 17th Congress and if Charter Change is indeed the most important, especially if this is the best time now to push for Charter Change, then certainly they will have to make adjustments that need to be done as regards other intervening events,” she added. PNA