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House members will enjoy 5-year term with extension under PDP Laban proposal — Colmenares

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Bayan Muna chairman and former congressman Neri Colmenares revealed on Friday that the PDP Laban draft Charter lengthens the term of office of members of the House of Representatives and “opens up term limits to further extension.”

“While we are busy debating on term extensions and no elections being floated, the Cha-cha of PDP Laban actually and expressly provided for lengthening the terms of congressmen from 3 years to five years under Section 4 Article VIII of the new Constitution,” the Makabayan leader said in a statement.

“This is one more reason why members of Congress must not be allowed to convene into a constituent assembly (Con Ass) and decide on self serving provisions such as no election, term extensions and lengthening their terms,” Colmenares said.

He cited Article VIII, Section 4 of the PDP Laban Federalism Institute’s draft Constitution, which converts the House into a “Federal Assembly.:

The provision states that, “The Members of the [DELETE House of Representatives] FEDERAL ASSEMBLY shall be elected for a term of [DELETE three years] FIVE (5) YEARS which shall begin, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their election.”

Colmenares said this was self-serving as it benefits the House members, who under the present Constitution can only serve nine years if they win three terms consecutively.

“Members of Congress should not be left to decide on a provision that benefits them. The total of 9 years straight in Congress is already long as it is and further lengthening this is surely self serving. This is why we have previously opposed lengthening terms of congressmen and con ass in the previous Cha-chas,” he said.

Colmenares also revealed that the PDP Laban’s version of the new Constitution opened up a possible elimination of term limits.

“A PERSON WHO HAS SERVED AS A MEMBER OF THE FEDERAL ASSEMBLY WITHOUT INTERRUPTION FOR PERIOD OF MORE THAN THREE (3) YEARS WITHIN THE FIVE (5) YEAR TERM SHALL BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE SERVED A TERM AS A MEMBER OF THE FEDERAL ASSEMBLY. NO PERSON WHO HAS SERVED ONE TERM AS A MEMBER OF THE FEDERAL ASSEMBLY AND WHO HAS SERVED A SECOND CONSECUTIVE TERM AS SUCH WITHOUT INTERRUPTION FOR MORE THAN THREE (3) YEARS SHALL BE QUALIFIED FOR ELECTION FOR A THIRD CONSECUTIVE TERM,” the provision reads.

“This play of words simply means that the term of a congressman whose five-year term was cut short to 3 years or less, is not yet counted as a term. What this provision further provides is that a person who has already served one term but his second term was cut to 3 years or less, is still qualified for election for a third consecutive term,” Colmenares said.

“This essentially makes term limits adjustable,” he said.

“While 3 years was the entire term of a congressman under the 1987 Constitution, in the new Constitution, it is not even counted as a term. While the new Constitution supposedly limits the term of a Congressman to two, it then takes the limit away by allowing them to run for a third and who knows how many other terms,” he added.

Colmenares urged those who battled the previous Cha-cha to come out again and vigorously oppose what he called the “worst Cha-cha” ever.