Press Release
September 25, 2020

Drilon thumbs down 'no-el' scenario

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon vowed to vigorously oppose any plan to postpone the 2022 national and local elections, warning that such a move could be a prelude to the main objective of extending the terms of national officials, congressmen, and other local officials.

"We will oppose that vigorously in the Senate. That is part of a continued effort at a 'no-el' scenario. The postponement could be a prelude to the main objective of extending the terms of members of the members of Congress and the elected officials," Drilon said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

Drilon believes that the Senate will not be swayed by any argument to allow the postponement of the 2022 national elections.

"I cannot see any justification on the postponement of the election. I am confident that our colleagues in the Senate will not agree to such a proposal," said Drilon,

Drilon stressed that the Commission on Election (Comelec) cannot postpone a national election without the law being amended.

"The Comelec can only postpone an election in a political subdivision, meaning the provinces, cities or municipalities, as provided for in the Omnibus Election Code," the former justice secretary explained.

But even that, he emphasized, there must be a showing that there is a serious cause of postponing the election in a political subdivision such "as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature" that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible.

Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code states that: "When for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision, the Commission, motu proprio or upon a verified petition by any interested party, and after due notice and hearing, whereby all interested parties are afforded equal opportunity to be heard, shall postpone the election therein to a date which should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect."

Drilon further explained that in accordance with the law, the postponement of election can be done provided that is within 30 days from the time the cause for the postponement would cease.

Even if the election is postponed, Drilon said that all the terms of office of all nationally and locally elected officials cannot go beyond June 30, 2022.

"The Constitution is clear that the term of office of nationally elected officials that began at noon on June 30 of 2016 cannot go beyond noon of June 30, 2022", Drilon said.

On a theoretical basis, the Congress can pass a law to postpone the election, he noted.

"But even if you pass that kind of a law, that will not extend the terms of office of the elected officials. You cannot postpone the election in the hope that your term can be extended. To extend the term you need an amendment to the Constitution," Drilon said.

"Hence, if we are going to postpone the elections, it cannot be later than June 30, 2022, because we should have a new set of officials by then."

Only the barangay officials, whose term can be fixed by law, can extend office beyond three years, he added.

"The national officials and local officials, other than barangay officials, cannot hold office beyond the term set out in the Constitution," he said.

"Given all these legal limitations, it will be absurd to postpone the elections. Comelec should be able to come up with adaptive and mitigating measures. We will provide Comelec with sufficient funds to set up mitigating measures in case the pandemic lasts until that time," he said

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