MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said it believes the May 2018 barangay elections will push through contrary to claims by Senate Minority Franklin Drilon that President Rodrigo Duterte’s congressional allies are again moving to postpone it to October this year.
Drilon earlier alleged that Duterte’s allies in Congress wants the polls to be postponed to October so that the plebiscite on the proposed charter change, which he said will include provisions on term extension and scrapping of the 2019 mid-term elections, can be held simultaneously with it.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said Drilon’s claim is “strange” and “speculative” since he heard from Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III that senators are keen on having the barangay polls this May.
“Senator Pimentel declared before the audience of 4,000 that there was no support in the Senate for another postponement of the barangay elections – that means, as far as Congress is concerned, barangay elections will push through. So this will belie already the statement of Senator Drilon,” Roque said in a news conference in Malacañang.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have previously clashed over the manner of voting on the proposed changes to the 1987 Constitution. Several senators have aired concerns over some of Duterte’s allies’ proposal to abolish the Senate to pave way for a unicameral legislative body.
Critics have also raised alarm over alleged attempts to extend the President’s term, something that the chief executive has already thumbed down.
Duterte has also dismissed the idea of leading a transitional government in case his administration manages to change the country’s form of government to federal.
Meanwhile, Roque assured that charter change will not be railroaded, noting that the consultative committee that the President had formed has just started its work.
“He (Duterte) would prefer that Congress await the outcome of the work product of the [consultative committee] before it is even tackled in Congress. So again, on a second basis, I would say that Senator Drilon is off tangent because there will be a lot more discussions ahead of us for charter change,” Roque said.
“It is not the President’s purpose to railroad it knowing how important it is - revising no less than the fundamental law of the land - and the people will be given ample time and opportunity to debate and ponder on the proposed revisions, whatever they may be.”