MANILA - Extending the term of incumbent government officials is necessary once the Filipino people vote, through a plebiscite, in favor of federalism this year, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
But Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, chairperson of the House committee on constitutional amendments, said the term extension is for the transition period, which he expects to last only until 2022, before President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from office.
"There is an extension, pero with public support. Kailangan natin magprepara sa bagong federal form of government... The new election will coincide with the end of the term of President Duterte in 2022," he told ANC.
He stressed that term extension, which means a no election scenario in 2019, will only push through if the people will approve the new charter that the Congress will submit.
The lawmaker said they expect to finish submitting a draft of the new constitution for a plebiscite in May or September this year, together with the barangay elections.
He said they will still push for Congress to vote jointly in a constituent assembly, despite opposition by some senators, believing that this is what the Constitution says.
Senator Panfilo Lacson has already filed a resolution for the Senate to convene as constituent assembly separate from the House of Representatives.