CAYETANO Talks EXTENDING Representative TERMS, To Take Effect NEXT CONGRESS

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The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines sets the term of the lower house of Congress, known as the House of Representatives and more commonly as just Congress (distinct from the upper house or Senate), as lasting only three years, with possible consecutive election of only three terms. This is in synergy with the six-year term of the President, although according to newly elected Representative of Taguig-Pateros Alan Peter Cayetano is of the opinion that in this present time, the three-year term and three-consecutive-term limits have become far too short for the Representatives to do their jobs. He believes a lengthening of Congressional terms is overdue.

ABS-CBN News reports that 18th Congress Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano is looking to extend the term of office for the lower house in the event that he is appointed Speaker of the House, regardless of arrangement. He considers the proposal as practical rather than political in light of the current atmosphere in Congress. Making an example of the term he and other Representatives elected in the recent midterm elections, Cayetano points out that upon taking office (2019), they usually have nothing but to spend the first six months organizing while they wait for their budget in January of next year.

Once they have budget, says Cayetano, the legislators get only that one year (2020) to do real work because by the following year (2021) they would have to prepare their machineries for the start of campaigning in 2022. In his view, 3 years is too short to do anything effective.

The former Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary then explained that although he would like the House to work on legislation of term extension if he becomes Speaker, he also wants any law that results to come into effect only on the next elected Congress. Representative Cayetano has emphasized this point in response to routine Congressional mudslinging that accuses him of pushing for term extension for his sake. He is also looking at the timeframe from the point that he might sit as Speaker of the House for only 15 months in a party-coalition power-sharing arrangement.

“Let me have this,” says Cayetano. “I [might] only have 15 months anyway. I don’t want to leave a failure. I want to leave as productive.” He adds that the talk of legislating a term extension for the lower house might result in a “disruptive” Congress, but that in doing so they could disrupt the ineffective three-year term status quo.

In Cayetano’s estimates, he would like Representatives to be elected every four years with no consecutive-term limits, or 5-year terms with 3-term limits. How this will be achieved, and how the changes might synergize with the unchanged Presidential and Senatorial terms, has not been clarified.

Image courtesy of Philippine Star

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