New federal Charter in place in 2018 — Speaker Alvarez
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — A new Constitution shifting the country to the federal system would be in place early next year, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said yesterday.

Alvarez said the House of Representatives and the Senate would begin functioning as a constituent assembly next month to draft the envisioned federal Constitution.

“We will create a small commission or committee to help us,” he said.

Alvarez said he would like the new Charter to be presented to the people for ratification in May next year simultaneously with the election of barangay officials.

With the plebiscite for ratification and barangay vote being held together, the government would save a lot on cost, he added.

Alvarez pointed out that the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law would be easier if a new federal Constitution was already in place.

He stressed that the envisioned new Charter would provide for autonomous regions throughout the country and not only in the Bangsamoro area.

Leftist group Bayan Muna has claimed that the federal Constitution President Duterte and his congressional allies have in mind would extend their term of office and scrap the term limits for elective officials.

“The extension will be made in the transitory provisions of the Charter. Since there would be a transition to the federal system, the President and members of Congress would like to cling on to power during that period,” the group said.

It also claimed that Duterte would be allowed to exercise legislative powers during the transition since Congress would be abolished until its successor-legislature is elected.

The President has vowed to shift the nation to the federal system, which he said could unlock the regions’ growth potentials.

Alvarez said the 16 million voters who elected Duterte approved of his plan to declare a revolutionary government.

“This revolutionary government is nothing new. The President discussed it as among his plans during the election campaign. Since he was elected, those who voted for him approved his revolutionary government plan,” Alvarez said.

He said he would accept a decision on Duterte’s part to padlock Congress in the event the President pushes through with such plan.

“It’s a small sacrifice on our part,” he added.

Alvarez also said he is in favor of extending martial law in Mindanao beyond its termination at the end of the month.

He said an extended martial law is needed to enable the military to address continuing threats to peace in the south.

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