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The 1987 constitution is composed of provisions setting forth the fundamental

civil and political rights of the individuals, designed to preserve the ideals of justice in
the state, as well as to guaranty peace and security. But the Constitution also imposes
limitations on these rights as it accords protection against future abuses. They are
limitations appertaining to the rights by virtue of the kind of government that we
currently have.

The Philippines is in a democratic system and It is often argued that term limits
are senseless since a favorable candidate should be allowed to serve so long as it is the
will of the people. However, a lack of term limits opens the door to significant political
corruption, wherein a particular seat can easily be bought by a political machine. It has
happened in the past, during the Martial Law, when the then president Marcos
allegedly abused his power because there was no limitations of term in the 1935
Constitution.

The provisions on limitation over the number of years or terms for which the
senators and members of the House can serve, as well as for them to seek reelection, are
explicitly stated under Section 4 and 7, respectively, of the 1987 Constitution. Section 4
of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution provides that the members of the Senate are
allowed to serve for six years and cannot serve for more than two consecutive terms.
Section 7 of the same article states that Congressmen have a three-year term with a bar
on serving for more than three consecutive terms.

The provisions on term-limits clearly provides that after two consecutive terms
for senators, or after three consecutive terms for district representatives, as the case may
be, an elective official of the senate and the House is prohibited to seek immediate re-
election for third and for fourth time, respectively. The prohibited election refers to the
next regular election for the same following the end of the last term served
consecutively, in accordance with the established limitations of terms of office.

Contrary to the present constitution, the draft federal constitution, Resolution of


Both Houses (RBH) No. 15, authored by Speaker Gloria Macagapal Arroyo and 21 other
legislators, removes the provisions imposing a two-term limit for senators and a three-
term limit for district and party-list representatives. This means that they can seek
reelection every time and if they win, they continue being the representatives.

As an example, lifting of term limits would allow Arroyo, a 3rd-termer


lawmaker, to run for office in the 2019 elections should the draft federal charter of the
House be approved. Therefore, It may also be a tool for other politicians who have
reached their last term to be able to run again without violating a prescribed term-limits
which is absent in the said proposed draft federal constitution.

It is not surprising that the majority of those that are pushing for the
introduction of lifting the term limits are members of the Congress or politicians eying
the positions they are interested to hold for their entire life. These politicians feel that
lifting the term limit would be a means for them to feel that their careers are secured
and still render them employed. However, this argument holds little water in a country
where almost every person has basic education and can therefore become a member of
the Congress. The opportunity should be spread out to all and that can only be done
through term limits.

Lifting the term-limits of members of the Congress would not be beneficial to the
country as it would not improve service delivery to the people. Lifting the said
limitation would work towards transferring the power from the people and taking it to
hands of the few people who wants to hold a position for their own interests.

Most citizens agree that the terms of the Congress should still be limited to crack
down on career politicians and power brokers. It is true that limiting the member’s
terms would be effective in preventing them from gaining too much power and
influence. Eventually, the members of Congress would then become much more in sync
with the constituents that they are meant to serve.

Most politicians in the Congress have the take of their terms as a career and
forget that the job they are given is a temporary one. This thinking makes the
lawmakers to spend most, if not all, of their time amassing wealth, raising funds for
their reelection and posturing. Research has shown that an average member of the
Congress spends less than half of their time serving the constituents. They do not spend
enough time focusing of the important aspects that sent them to the Congress. Limiting
the Congress terms would thus be effective in emphasizing on policy in the Congress
rather than on politics as it currently is.

The aspect of experience has been earmarked as the main reason for opposing
the limitation of terms for the members of Congress. The more the members stay in the
congress, the more experienced they become and they can therefore serve the
constituents better. Muntinlupa Representative Rufino Biazon said one benefit of lifting
term limits would be to ensure the legislative branch will be filled with experts in
lawmaking. He said the term limits being imposed by the 1987 Constitution leads to a
situation where “we will always have a legislature [that is] lacking in experience.”

Essentially, their experience is a plus for the constituents in the fact that they
receive better representation in both the Senate and the House. In truth, a person who
has more experience can expedite their actions in the Congress. In contrast, first time
entrants have little experience and must undergo a learning curve. This learning curve
may take more than one limit and could limit the time that the members have in
representing the constituents.

In fact, some have argued that limiting the term of members can limit the amount
of experience in the congress thus working against the interests of the public. The
arguments do have some truth elements in the fact that people who have been in the
congress for some time have the advantage of knowing much more about the congress
and the bills that are in contention at a given time. However, the assertion, despite
having truth elements is selfish in the fact that it assumes only the current members of
the congress have the ability of representing the country well.

However, experience and the lack of the same if the term limits are executed can
perfectly be countered through the various corruptions that the members are involved
in. The more a members of the congress stays in office, the more power they amass and
thus the vulnerability to corruption. Essentially, imposing term limits on members of
the congress would be a plus ion the fight against corruption and impunity in the
country. Past studies have shown a high likelihood of making decisions that are driven
by self interest among members who have stayed for long periods in power. In fact,
most of the members who have served for long in the congress tend not to listen to the
constituents in making the decisions in the congress.

This is evidenced by the many times that the members of the congress go against
the public will even in cases where it is all too clear on what the general public want.
The members of the congress do not, in this instances consult their constituents in the
process of making laws and policy. In the same respect, congress members that have
served for long may lose respect for the electorate and end up doing their own will. In
addition, these same people may over time become redundant in the laws that they pass
due to the lack of focus.

The limitation of terms for the members of the congress would render many
talented people out of job due to the term limits. Opponents of term limitation argue
that limiting the term, even though serving some good, would be unfair to people that
are exceptional in their service delivery in the congress. Essentially, limiting the
congressional terms would punish the performing members for evils committed by
nonperforming members. In addition, there are many career politicians who are in the
congress and they would be pushed out of the job market if the laws came into force.

Many of the lawmakers are seasoned political scientists who have no other skills
or experience in other jobs. Limiting the term limits for this group of people would
mean that they cannot get employment elsewhere after completing their terms. While
this seems like a perfect excuse for the removal of term limits, it is veiled in fallacy that
is quite evident. There is no requirement for one to study political science for them to
join politics. In fact, anyone can become a politician even without having to learn the
trade in universities. Arguing that their jobs will be permanently lost is therefore not a
valid reason. They should adapt with the tides and learn new skills if they wish to be
absorbed in the job market after their terms have elapsed.

While it is true that most lawmakers have some background in political science
classes and many have only that single knowledge in the field of academia, the
argument to retain them holds no water. Serving in the congress is a temporary
assignment bestowed upon an individual that the constituents deem fit to represent
their agenda. By extension, politics should not be considered a career, worse still a
career for a few people that had the advantage of being elected into office.

The distortion in the discourse extended by seasoned politicians about the


concept of politics has made the general public to accept the fallacy as real facts. Many
of the people believe that some people are meant to be life-long politicians but that was
not what is meant to be in truth. Serving in the congress is supposed to be a civic duty
that is bestowed upon the most fit individuals in the country. It should not be a career
for only the few people that have studied political science in class. Essentially, congress
representation is a temporary assignment that should be limited for the members.

The advocates of having no limitation on the terms of congress members have


argued that doing so is only driven by hatred for politicians in general. The assumption
among the general public is that every other politician is corrupt and serves in their
own interests. The proponents of term limitation imagine that the moral values of
politicians deteriorate over time and that their ability to serve citizens is jeopardize by
interest groups and that the public sector is dogged with evil. The opponents of term
limitation have always cried foul over this treatment based on the assumption that the
seasoned lawmakers have a disconnect with the people they represent. To the
opponents, all politicians are elected by the people meaning that these people have
actual faith in their leadership.

In any case, the constituents would not elect someone who is not in sync with
their needs. In addition, term limits are undemocratic and go against the basic
principles of democracy by not giving the people the power to make decisions on their
own. While all these arguments are true, it is not true that the general public votes the
lawmakers in because of their performance. Rather, most are voted in due to being
relatively better compared to the others. Actually, a majority of the citizens retain the
same politicians in office due to a lack of better options in the same seat. If the people
are presented with more options through the term limitations, there would be better
performance among the elected class of leaders.

Limiting the term of congress members may work to counter the established
hierarchy and inequality among politicians. Politicians who are long-term members in
the congress have the advantage of dominating over the new entrants. The experience
that the long-term serving members have gives them the advantage of being more
political savvy at the expense of first time politicians. The fact that they are in power
means that they can establish important connections that are vital in their reelection
plans. It is not surprising that long serving politicians are the best funded during
campaigns for the election.

The members in office therefore disregard opinions of the constituents are they
are too busy planning on how to win the next election. Moreover, the many years that
seasoned serving members have makes them much more eligible to chair committees in
the congress thus making them even more influential. The overall effect of such a
setting is that long serving lawmakers have a better advantage over the newcomers
even in the times of election. This fact undermines the principle of having a legislature
that is made up of lawmakers of equal importance.

Opponents of term limits for congress members have used history to defend
their claims. It has been argued countless times that the founders of the country found it
fit into set the terms of the various positions the way they did for many reasons. Among
the many reasons is the fact that they anticipated that the politicians would go for more
than one term. The opponents further argue that the past politicians in history had
other careers and could thus be limited as to the number of terms they served.
However, in a modern democracy, service to the people requires that politicians spend
much longer in office.
Despite the explanation by opponents of term limits, it has much more
advantages that one can think of. Moreover, term limits have been in existence from
ancient democracies and the concept was supported by the founders of the country. The
fact that the presidential terms are limited to two means that the congressional term
could also be limited. It is actually unfair to limit terms for one arm of the government
while not limiting another;. As currently constituted, the executive arm of the
government has its terms limited to two while the legislative arm has no limitation.
Limiting the terms of congress is in order and would lead to much more gains than
losses.