FILE PHOTO: Senator Robin Padilla chairs the Committee on Cultural Communities and Muslim Affairs hearing on December 6, 2023. Padilla introduced Both Houses Resolution (RBH) No. 5, which seeks to allow the president and vice president to president to serve two terms and increase the number of senators to 54, among others, on Wednesday, December 13th. (Bibo Nueva España/Senado PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Robinhood Padilla has filed a proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution and allow the president and vice president to serve two terms and increase the number of senators to 54.

According to its Resolution of Both Chambers (RBH) No. 5, the President and Vice-President must also be voted as “joint candidates”, while the terms of office of some senators will be extended to eight years and the terms of office of legislators in the House of Representatives for four years.

Padilla filed RBH No. 5 on Wednesday, December 13th.

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It is “imperative to strike a balance between the need for political continuity, which requires adequate time for lawmakers to fulfill their legislative agenda, and the need to avoid the accumulation of power, which can lead to political entrenchment,” said the rookie lawmaker, who chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and code review, said in the resolution.

“It is important to provide a permissible extension of service, thereby providing elected officials with a more substantial opportunity to effectuate [and] significant changees in their respective offices,” he added.

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Some of the specific proposals of RBH nº 5 are:

  • Sec. 2 of Article VI: The Senate will have 54 members. Of these, 24 are freely elected and 30 are elected by qualified voters from each legislative region.
  • Sec. 4 of Article VI: Freely elected senators will have a term of office of eight years, but may not serve for more than two consecutive terms; senators elected by region will serve four-year terms, but may not serve for more than three consecutive terms.
  • Sec. 7 of Article VI: Members of the House of Representatives will be elected for a four-year term and may not serve more than three consecutive terms.
  • Sec. 4 of Article VII: The President and Vice-President will be elected as co-candidates by direct vote of the people for a four-year term. They will not be elected for more than two terms. A President who has served two terms will not be qualified to run for any elected office. Any person who has succeeded the President or Vice President will only be eligible for one election to the same office at any time.
  • Sec. 8 of Article X: The term of office of local elective officials, except barangay officials, shall be four years. They will serve a maximum of three consecutive terms.

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In a statement released Thursday, Padilla explained that the change he seeks in the mandates of the President and Vice President would guarantee what he called “balance in leadership stability and democratic continuity.”

“A joint candidacy for President and Vice President provides an electoral scenario that will shift its emphasis from individual personalities to the unified political agenda and promote more strategic and effective governance,” he also said.

Padilla's bill notes that introductory elections for all employees under the proposed changes will be held on the second Monday in May 2028.

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Based on RBH nº 5, the two chambers of Congress – Senate and Chamber of Deputies – must resolve the proposed amendments through a constituent assembly, or by the vote of three quarters of parliamentarians, with each chamber voting separately.