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Monday, April 15, 2024

PBBM wants plebiscite simultaneous with elections

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President Marcos on Wednesday said the government is looking for ways to hold the plebiscite on the proposed economic Charter changes alongside the 2025 national elections.

In an interview before his flight to Canberra, the President confirmed the Cabinet was reviewing a move to put together the plebiscite for changes to the 1987 Constitution and the 2025 midterm polls to save money.

“We’re really studying that because if we separate the election and the plebiscite, it’s like having two elections. It’s very costly. So, maybe, if we combine the plebiscite with the local elections happening in May next year. That’s a big deal, big savings for us. That’s what we’re studying carefully,” the President said.

“There is [a] legal consequence there because a plebiscite is slightly different— not so slightly— a plebiscite is different from an election. So, if we are able to incorporate the two exercises together, as a practical matter, I think that can help,” he added.

The President’s remarks came after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri revealed Mr. Marcos’ directive after meeting with senators to discuss the amendment of the 1987 Constitution.

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Administration lawmakers on Wednesday welcomed the President’s statement, citing the need for careful consideration and thorough analysis before making any decisions regarding the simultaneous plebiscite and elections.

At a news conference, Reps. Cheeno Miguel Almario of Davao Oriental, Ray Reyes of AnaKalusugan party-list group, and Peter Miguel of South Cotabato said the proposal merits further study.

“On a practical sense, it’s good if we conduct it simultaneously. But considering that this involves the Constitution, we will look into what are the possibilities that we can explore,” Almario said.

“For now, we cannot say with confidence yet as we need to look into all the avenues, all the possibilities, and what the law provides that we can do or cannot do,” he added.

Earlier, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the government will save at least P13 billion if the plebiscite for Charter change will be synchronized with the midterm elections, as the savings can then be used to support social services.

“We welcome the statement made by Commission on Election (Comelec) Chairperson George Garcia that the poll body is amenable to holding a plebiscite on Charter Change amendments together with the 2025 midterm elections,” Zubiri said.

The Comelec statement is consistent with what President Marcos also told senators and the media, he noted.

“And this strategic move not only streamlines our electoral processes, but also saves valuable resources,” the Senate President said.

Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara hopes to bring the Charter change debates to the Senate floor before President Marcos Jr. delivers his third State of the Nation Address in July.

Responding to a query on the inclusion of constitutional economic provisions to be amended, Angara said, “We have to see the final ballot. This, along with the question that will be put on the ballot (for the plebiscite), would be part of a hearing that we will conduct.”

The House of Representatives earlier said it would adopt the Senate’s Charter change measure – RBH No. 6 – in full and without any changes to dispel doubts on the push to amend restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, and would be done with it before the Holy Week break.

“To dispel doubts that the efforts of the House of Representatives in pushing for the amendment of the economic provisions of the Constitution are politically motivated, we are adopting all the three proposed amendments of the Senate version of Resolution of Both Houses 6, in toto,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headlines “Marcos considers holding Cha-Cha plebiscite along with ’25 midterm polls / Zubiri: PH to save P13B if plebiscite is held along with 2025 polls.”

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