Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has said he will not support any move to extend the stay in office of President Arroyo and other elective officials beyond their mandated terms of office, nor will he back plans to "dispense with or postpone" the 2010 elections.
In a statement, Enrile reiterated that he would lead senators in questioning before the Supreme Court moves emanating from the House of Representatives seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution through a Constituent Assembly with the two chambers voting jointly rather than separately.
"I am vehemently against any move to extend the terms of elective government officials, including the President and I will not support any move to dispense with or postpone the elections in 2010," Enrile said.
"If need be, I will lead the senate in opposing and challenging the legality of moves emanating from the House of Representatives to oppose changes in the Charter through a Constituent Assembly that will render the Senate inutile by the insistence of House members that they can undertake this effort via joint voting rather than the two Houses voting separately," he added.
Enrile revealed he was willing to appear and argue his case before the Supreme Court.
Nonetheless, he said he was in favor of amending certain provisions of the 1987 Constitution, especially plans to shift to a unicameral legislature as well as plans to review the economic provisions in order to help the country cope with the need to encourage investments and enable it to compete in the international market.
As Senate President, Enrile pointed out, he must ensure that the Chamber "remains united against dubious designs and schemes to amend the Constitution to serve the interests of the incumbents and other vested political interests."
"I have sworn to protect and fight for the Senate as an institution and if need be, at the proper time, I am willing to argue the case myself before the Supreme Court," Enrile said.
In Malacañang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo reiterated the palace's opposition against extending the term of President Arroyo, amid the growing resistance against Charter change which is widely perceived as a move to prolong her tenure.
Fajardo said the President is pushing for Charter change to introduce economic and political reforms but term extension is not part of her agenda. She said she doubts Charter change will prosper because the public normally associates it with term extensions.
Fajardo reiterated that the President herself is willing to step down from office on June 30, 2010.
Last week, Enrile vowed that he would preside over a Senate that will maintain its reputation of independence and uphold its tradition of integrity and freedom by making it free from personal political interests.
Enrile told Senate employees he will be guided only by public interests in the performance of his tasks as Senate President.
"I can assure you that I will never do anything that will shame the Senate," Enrile said. "I will maintain its reputation of independence, its tradition of integrity and freedom, unencumbered by any political consideration, unencumbered by any political ambition and unencumbered by any of my own personal interest."