Nene Pimentel, IBP, Namfrel reject no-election scenario in May 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate president Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr and 9 other Senate resource persons oppose a no-election scenario in May 2019, amid the bid to change the 1987 Constitution.

Pimentel, one of the 25 members of President Rodrigo Duterte's Consultative Committee (Con-Com), said that a "no-el" scenario is against the Constitution.

"A no-election scenario would unduly prolong the exercise of powers and privileges even of undeserving elective officials, and deprive those who may be more deserving of elective public offices from having the opportunity to seek the mandate of the people to serve them," Pimentel said in his position paper submitted to the Senate committee on constitutional amendments.

"The principal effect of a no-election scenario would be to upset the constitutional mandate that requires elective officials to be subjected to periodic check by the sovereign people," he added.

Pimentel, a longtime advocate of federalism, also distanced himself from the federalism version of the party he founded, PDP-Laban, saying he no longer wants to engage in "partisan politics."

"[My proposal is] borne out of our studies, but not necessarily based on partisan considerations," he said.

No less than House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, secretary general of PDP-Laban, floated the idea of the cancellation of midterm elections if the country transitions to a federal system of government.

Domingo Cayosa, incoming president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), said such a move would be self-serving.

"No-el puts the political agenda and self-interest of politicians above and before the more fundamental and important interest of present and future Filipinos," he said.

UP political science professor Gene Lacza Pilapil also said: "It is injurious to the Charter Change campaign itself because it would be exposed as primarily a power grab of self-interested, shameless, and power-hungry legislators who exploit Charter Change both as a smokescreen and as an excuse to extend themselves in power."

The following are the other resource persons who said scheduled elections should push through:

Senator Francis Pangilinan, who earlier said he opposes the no-election scenario, told reporters after the hearing: "Marahil nakikita nila na mahalaga sa ating demokrasya na ituloy ang eleksyon, at marami rito ang nagkukuwestyon ng motibo ng mga panawagan para magkaroon ng postponement ng eleksyon. Wala tayong narinig na sumusuporta."

(They probably see that it is important for our democracy that the elections push through, and many here question the motives behind calls to postpone the elections. We did not hear anyone supporting the no-election scenario.)

The Senate committee is set to conduct another regional hearing on Friday, March 16, in Baguio City. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.