A PROPOSAL at the House of Representatives to lift presidential term limits through a constituent assembly is too late, senators said on Monday.

“Parliamentary ethics dictates that I do not question the motive of a fellow legislator, but what I can say is, it’s too late in the day,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said in a Viber message.

“They should try that in the 19th Congress. Good luck,” added the lawmaker, who is running for vice-president next year.

Pampanga Rep. Aurelio D. Gonzales, Jr., a member of the ruling PDP-Laban party on Friday proposed the charter change, noting that the Philippine president should have a term of five years with a chance of one reelection. The 1987 Constitution bars the president, whose term runs for six years, from running for reelection.

“I don’t think there’s still time to tackle any measure that involves charter change,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Sr. said in a Viber message in mixed English and Filipino. “If in the previous years it did not happen, it especially won’t happen now that we have only nine session days left not including the joint session of Congress to convene as the National Canvassing Board for President and vice-president.” 

Mr. Lacson is running for president in tandem with Mr. Sotto. Congressional sessions will resume on Jan. 17 and end on Feb. 4. Filipinos will choose President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s replacement on May 9. Under Mr. Gonzales’s proposal, Mr. Duterte will be banned from running for any post after his term ends this year. 

Senator Franklin M. Drilon said the proposal should be ignored.

The push comes after the ruling party asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to reopen the filing of the certificates of candidacy for this year’s elections. It said the printing of ballots should not proceed pending lawsuits involving certain candidates and party-lists. 

Some lawmakers have said this could delay the May elections and unnecessarily extend Mr. Duterte’s term. The election body would soon address the party’s plea, Comelec spokesman James B. Jimenez has said.

PDP-Laban, which is headed by Mr. Duterte, does not have presidential and vice-presidential candidates this year after Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa and his running mate Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go quit the race. 

The party has been split by a dispute between a faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi and another headed by Senator and boxing champion Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, Sr., who is running for president.

The boxer will run under the Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiatives, along with party-list lawmaker Jose L. Atienza, Jr.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pacquiao promised that health workers would get a minimum wage of P50,000 if he gets elected.

In a statement, he said he would ask Congress to legislate a new salary standardization bill for health workers. He would also order the National Wages and Productivity Commission and Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards to revamp the minimum wage for private health professionals and increase their gross monthly pay to at least P50,000.   

This would increase progressively and make their salaries competitive with their overseas counterparts, Mr. Pacquiao said.

“This P50,000 per month minimum wage is still very low if we compare it with the salaries offered by other countries, but it might be enough to convince some of them not to leave their families behind,” he added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan