June 22, 2018, 12:43 pm
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.06897 UAE Dirham
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.07009 Brazilian Real
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.01621 Euro
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03897 Fiji Dollar
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.08833 Ghanaian Cedi
1 Philippine Peso = 0.87962 Gambian Dalasi
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.14052 Guatemala Quetzal
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.14739 Hong Kong Dollar
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1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
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1 Philippine Peso = 149.29577 Sierra Leone Leone
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No-El still alive at the House

BY WENDELL VIGILIA AND JP LOPEZ

MOVES to cancel the 2019 midterm elections are still alive at the House of Representatives, where a ranking administration ally continues to drum up support for the initiative, opposition Rep. Edgar Erice (LP, Caloocan) said yesterday.

Erice said Rep. Reynaldo Umali (PDP-Laban, Oriental Mindoro), in a caucus of Metro Manila congressmen last Tuesday, batted for the passage of the proposal to postpone the May barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to October to buy more time for the holding of a plebiscite on the administration’s proposed shift to federalism which, in turn, could postpone the 2019 polls.

“That’s actually the purpose of the postponement of the barangay elections, so that the plebiscite can be held simultaneously with it by October – the plebiscite for Charter change will contain a provision for No-El (in 2019),” he told dzBB.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez initially planned to hold a plebiscite for federalism simultaneously with this year’s May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections but admitted recently that it might not be doable because of the tight deadline.

He said, however, that “anything can happen” now that his allies have filed measures to postpone the barangay and SK polls.

Umali has also filed a bill to move the barangay and SK polls from May 2018 to May next year while Rep. Johnny Pimentel (PDP-Laban, Surigao del Sur) has filed a measure to postpone the May barangay and SK polls to October 2018.

The 2019 midterm elections may be cancelled as the country transitions from the present system to a federal one which President Duterte has been calling for.

If the plan pushes through, officials whose terms will end in 2019 may be allowed to continue to hold office in a holdover capacity.

Erice quoted Umali as saying in the caucus that postponing the barangay and SK polls would help the President buy more time for the holding of a plebiscite on the shift to federalism.

He said Umali requested them to bring their constituents during the Feb. 27 and 28 Liga ng mga Barangay event at Plaza Miranda to support the call for the postponement of barangay and SK elections and the federalism initiative.

Umali confirmed that he made the pitch for the postponement of the May barangay and SK elections, saying anything is possible.

“What I said was anything can happen. We’re looking at it because it’s needed and we have to finish it so we can concentrate on federalism and Cha-cha which was promised by our President,” he said in a separate interview.

Asked if his proposal may lead to a No-El scenario in 2019: “Of course, (we’ll do) whatever it is that we need to do to push for Cha-Cha and federalism.”

Umali, however, said it would be better if the barangay and SK elections and even the midterm poll would be held simultaneously in May 2019.

Senators rejected the plan to postpone again the barangay and SK elections to accommodate a plebiscite on Charter change in October.

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon warned of attempts to railroad between August and October the passage of the bill on the postponement of the polls and the calling of a plebiscite to shift to a federal system. 

He said the plan was confirmed to him by several congressmen and a senator.

Drilon urged Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III “to lead the Senate to prevent a Charter change based on the ambition of the House of Representatives for a term extension.”

“The Senate President should reflect the sentiment of all the senators. He should show his leadership in order that we should have a rational discussion of Charter Change,” said Drilon, adding that the senators would not agree to a railroaded Charter change and federalism.

He said around 80 of congressmen are already on their last term, hence the supermajority is hatching plans to get rid of the elections and allow an extension of their term of office through Charter change.

Several senators immediately rejected the plan.

“I am not in favor of postponing the barangay elections any further if the only reason is to wait for their supposed attempt to amend the constitution. We don’t rush the passage of laws, what more amendments to the Constitution,” said Sen. Francis Escudero.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said based on the debates on the last postponement of the barangay elections, many senators were “quite resolute” that it would be the final postponement.

“Any subsequent postponement would entail some change of heart of sorts,” Angara said.

Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III said: “Malabo. I would be the first to know if that will happen. Filing na sa October ng candidacy.”

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said: “I’m not inclined to support yet another postponement of the barangay elections especially if the sole purpose is to accommodate a plebiscite for Charter change.”

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV: “We should push through with the elections. We’ve been postponing it for too long already. We also want to see the SK elections push through as this will be the first time an anti-political dynasty provision in our laws will be implemented.”

Sen. Joel Villanueva said: “I will not support it as I believe constitutional amendment cannot be rushed. Hope we all learn from our history.”
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