‘No-el’ not for lawmakers to decide
The no-election (No-el) scenario is dependent not on whether it has the support of our lawmakers, but on specific provisions of our Constitution pertaining to the terms of office of our elected officials.
The proposal that the scheduled 2019 midterm elections be canceled and the terms of office of legislators be extended is unconstitutional, because it will violate the provisions of the Constitution mandating that the term of office of senators will be six years, and three years for local elective officials.
The proposed extension of the legislators’ terms of office and their retention in a hold-over capacity is likewise unconstitutional, because “holdover” positions are considered as “legislative appointments.” Hence, it will violate the constitutional provision that they should be elected and not appointed to their positions.
The Supreme Court has ruled that “the legislature cannot, by an act postponing the election to fill an office the term of which is limited by the Constitution, extend the term of the incumbent beyond the period as limited by the Constitution.”
In the 1991 case of Osmeña vs Comelec involving the synchronization of elections, the Court ruled that “it is not competent for the legislature to extend the term of officers by providing that they shall hold over where the Constitution has in effect or by clear implication prescribed the term, and when the Constitution fixes the day on which the official’s term shall begin, there is no legislative authority to continue the office beyond that period.”
ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, election lawyer, Las Piñas City
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