A FORMER lawmaker opposed the proposed change in term limits for the two highest elected positions in the country to five years with a chance to run for a second 5-year term.
“The basis (of this provision) is not clear, especially that there are examples of (Congress) in other countries that are able to do their jobs without the need for term extension,” Neri J. Colmenares, chair of National Union of People’s Lawyers, said during a House committee meeting on constitutional amendments on Thursday.
The proposal is contained in Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, filed on the first day of the current Congress on June 30.
The resolution calls for the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene as a constituent assembly to amend provisions of the Constitution and related laws on the term limits of the president, vice president, House representatives and local government officials.
The resolution also proposes that a vote for the president be a vote for the vice president, with the two belonging to the same political party.
Raul L. Lambino, a member of the 2005 Constitutional Commission, supported the provision allowing a singular vote for a presidential and vice-presidential candidate of the same party.
However, he proposed to maintain the two executive positions’ six-year term and allow reelection.
“The six-year term of office of the president is enough but let us give a competent president a chance to be reelected for another six-year term. If they are not competent, then they wouldn’t be reelected,” Mr. Lambino said.
He added that such amendment could also be applicable to the vice-president.
He also called to remove term limits for senators, leaders in congress, and local officials.
“When it comes to other officials: senators, congressmen, local officials, let us remove its term limits, (which is) three term limits only. Nine years is too short, and then their spouse, child, sibling would eventually replace them. The issue of giving others a chance is not addressed,” Mr. Lambino said.
Mr. Lambino further proposed a political subdivision wherein there will be eight senatorial regions.
“Three in Luzon (northern Luzon, National Capital Region, southern Luzon); two in the Visayas (eastern and western); and three in Mindanao (eastern, western, and the Bangsamoro autonomous region).”
“(In this set up), we think that the senators will be more responsive and more responsible because the laws they will be creating will cater to the needs of their constituent regions,” Mr. Lambino said.
Christian S. Monsod, another one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, said term limits are a matter of social justice.
“If you read Section 1 of Article XIII, it is to try to address the social, economic, and political inequalities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.”
Article XIII Section 1 says the State must “regulate the acquisition, ownership, use, and disposition of property and its increment.”
Former Supreme Court Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna, a member of the 1971 and 1986 Constitutional Conventions, said term limits were placed in the Constitution “to give chances to others to also hold public office.”
“You should uphold the right of the people to choose whoever they want,” Mr. Azcuna said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz