Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Wednesday said tht the membership of the ruling PDP-Laban and the backers of federalism grew by 10 percent ‘in just a single day.’
“We really feel the support of the people of Bulacan for PDP-Laban and federalism,” said Pimentel, referring to the the oath-taking ceremony in Bulacan where 30,000 new members from Bulacan were accepted to the party.
The new members were welcomed into the Party by Pimentel, Secretary General and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Party Vice Chairman and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, among others.
“This is one of the biggest oath-takings we’ve held so far. I am overwhelmed by the support Bulakeños show for federalism,” noted Pimentel.
With the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, PDP Laban is now the country’s largest political party in the Philippines, counting more than 300,000 members, including 2 senators, 122 members of the House of Representatives, 38 governors, 23 vice governors, 540 mayors, and 316 vice mayors.
Meanwhile, Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for amendments to ensure that contentious provisions regulating the terms of office of Bangsamoro elective local officials are consistent with the Constitution.
Gatchalian said one such provision is Article VII, Section 13 of the Senate version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (Senate Bill No. 1717), which provides that the initial term length of three years for members of the Bangsamoro Parliament provided in the law would be “without prejudice to the power of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to include in the Election Code a new term of office.”
He questioned if this provision would empower the BTA to lengthen the subsequent terms of by Bangsamoro MPs to over three years.
After consulting members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) present at the deliberations, Gatchalian, who is the principal sponsor of SB 1717, Senator Migz Zubiri, author of the BBL, both confirmed that this provision could allow the lengthening of the term of office.
Gatchalian also cited the need to amend Article VII, Section 13 to be consistent with the Constitution. He contestsd that members of Parliament, being elective local officials, should not be allowed to serve more than three consecutive three-year terms, as stipulated in Article X, Section 8 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
He also underscored the importance of clarifying any provision that could be used to circumvent the three-term limit for local elective officials prescribed by the Constitution, such as the dissolution of Parliament.
Article VII, Section 37 of SB 1717 provides that the Wali (ceremonial head of the Bangsamoro government) shall dissolve Parliament upon the advice of the Chief Minister after a 2/3rds vote of no confidence cast by all the members of Parliament.
The provision, he said, should be refined to make it clear that the term served by incumbent MPs at the time of dissolution will be recognized as a full uninterrupted term—meaning that it will count against the three-term limit.
“Because if it's an interrupted term, that means they can run again as if they were back to their original term. So, if you’re already on your third term and Parliament is dissolved, you can serve another three terms again. That's a perpetual term already,” he explained.
“We just need to clear this up very well because it’s something that can be abused in the future,” he added.