Congressman to senators: Keep an open mind on term extensions

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 17 2019 11:27 AM

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MANILA - A lawmaker in the House of Representatives is hoping to get his colleagues in the Senate to agree on various constitutional amendments including a push to extend term limits. 

"We have appealed to our dear senators to keep an open mind and look at [the] four proposals. They could easily just say that it is not a priority; it is doomed from the very start. What we want is for them to take a stand," Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the committee, said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

Members of Rodriguez's committee voted to approve 4 proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution. The proposals include:

- 5-year terms for senators, congressmen and local executives with a maximum of 3 consecutive terms
- election of senators by region with 3 senators per region and the country divided into 9 regions
- empowering Congress to relax the limits to foreign investments in the country by mere legislation
- tandem voting for the president and vice-president

Rodriguez said term extensions for local officials will answer the clamor of the people who believe that a 3-year term is too short to implement projects. He denied that the term extensions will benefit sitting officials.

"That is false news, that this is self-serving for us. No, because this will be applicable only after the 2022 elections," he said.

The congressman said having senators elected by region is to ensure the full development of the countryside.

"It's about time that we will have our regions represented fully in the Senate. Right now, more than 12 of these senators are from Metro Manila...what happens to the entire country? That is why that is also the clamor in our public hearings that we already elect senators by regions," he said.

He added, "We ask the senators to look at this and see how these political changes can be helpful for our country."

Rodriguez said voting in tandem for the president and the vice president would ensure that they have a common platform and plan of action.

"If they win, they will hit the ground running together," he said.

As for foreign investments, Rodriguez said it is time to relax the 60-40 provision.

"But we will not do it in these amendments. We will just put a comma 'unless otherwise provided by law' and let the legislators handle this," he said.

He said consumers would have more choices if public utilities like water, transportation and electricity were liberalized.

"We believe that we should be open to all, anyway there's regulation, there will be regulatory rules that will be issued by the pertinent government agencies," he said.

Rodriguez is hoping that a full debate on the matter will happen from January to March.

"We can never know if Congress will be in favor of all these 4 so we just have to therefore have the debates and see and wish that we can have the 3/4 (vote)," he said.