“What a shame it has all come to this.”
The Commission on Elections deserves commendation for “unanimously” and “resoundingly” rejecting the petition filed by a faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino -Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to re-open the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the May 2022 general elections.
The Comelec did the right thing because giving due course to the petition would have upended the entire electoral process and allowed it to descend into chaos, with a new set of candidates filing their COCs and throwing the preparations of the poll body into total disarray, thus possibly leading to a postponement of the May 2022 political exercise.
A postponement of the May 2022 polls does not mean that President Rodrigo Duterte can extend his constitutionally mandated six-year term. That’s the good news.
Duterte was swept to power in 2016 using the PDP-Laban as his political vehicle, although we seriously doubt that he had even read the party’s constitution and by-laws and been formally inducted as a member after going through the regular process. He was designated as party chairman after winning the 2016 election apparently as an honorary title since he had no record as a party member before then.
Part of the plot to keep the interlopers in the ruling party in power for as long as they can is the proposed resolution of a supporter of the Duterte-Cusi faction in the PDP-Laban to extend the terms of all elective officials. The Comelec likewise rejected this proposal.
Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. pushed for longer terms for the president, members of the House of Representatives, and local officials. His proposal, contained in Resolution of Both Houses No. 7, sought to give the president and vice president a term of five years with one reelection.
“A six-year tenure is too short for a good president, especially if he is confronted with a crippling crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to wreak havoc on our health and economy and whose end is not yet in sight. It may take more than one presidency before the nation can fully recover from this catastrophe,” he said.
“On the other hand, if we do not like the way the president is governing, we can vote him out of office a year earlier if his term of office is five years,” he added.
The Gonzales resolution proposes to ban the president from running for any elective post after serving his term of office.
In addition, it would make a vote for the president also a vote for his running mate in the vice presidential race.
Thankfully, the Comelec likewise rejected the proposal, saying that given the advanced stage of its preparations for May 2022, now is not the time to consider the lifting of term limits as this would further delay the timetable for the upcoming polls.
While the poll body is kept busy preparing for May 2022, is it possible that the crucial political exercise may not happen at all for one reason or another?
That’s the fear of three senators, presidential aspirant Ping Lacson and his running mate, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, plus Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who want their remaining 12 colleagues to elect a new Senate President by next month who is “independent” to assure a smooth constitutional succession should the May 2022 polls not push through. In the event that President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo can no longer continue in office, then the new Senate President can become president of the Republic through constitutional succession.
And who can that “independent-minded” senator be? Given the political composition of those staying on as senators until 2025, is there anyone there who can be considered “independent”?
At any rate, the way things are going, making a mockery of our electoral process is consistent with the Duterte administration’s travesty of our justice system and the rule of law, as amply demonstrated by its bloody war on drugs where thousands of alleged drug suspects supposedly fought back and engaged law enforcers in gunbattles. But law enforcers have not presented hard evidence that such gunbattles actually took place, instead conveniently putting all these under the category of “deaths under investigation” whose results have not been made public. Or was there any investigation at all?
We believe that the time has come for PDP-Laban President, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, the heir to the party’s illustrious record of defending and strengthening Philippine democracy since its founding in 1981 by his father, former Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., to assert his leadership and restore the party’s good name.
We supported the vice-presidential bid of Nene Pimentel in tandem with former Senate President Jovito Salonga as presidential bet in the 1992 elections. While the duo landed sixth in a field of seven, with Fidel Ramos emerging as the winner with a little over 20 percent of the total votes cast, Nene Pimentel nurtured the pro-democracy stand of the over the years, even counseling media to “speak out” against abuses by government, including infringement of press freedom.
We’ve said it before and it bears repeating now: the late Nene Pimentel must not only be turning but even spinning in his grave over what the PDP-Laban has become under the Duterte regime – a battering ram against Philippine democracy any way you look at it, instead of its ardent defender. What a shame it has all come to this.