Concom approves draft Charter for federal government

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Concom approves draft Charter for federal government
Former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr. (right), considered the father of federalism, shares a light moment with retired Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Nachura and ex-chief justice Reynato Puno after signing the draft charter for the proposed federal system of government at the PICC yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines — The special body tasked by President Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution has approved a draft charter for a federal government envisioned by the administration.

The 22-member consultative committee (Concom) chaired by former chief justice Reynato Puno unanimously approved yesterday the draft constitution, which it would submit to Duterte on July 9.

The President is expected to formally endorse the draft Charter to Congress in his next State of the Nation Address on July 23.

Puno said he and the other members of the committee are confident of a favorable
congressional action on the draft charter.

He also cited the people’s positive response to recommendations contained in the draft federal constitution.

“We have been submitting these various recommendations to the people through the media. And so far, the result, the reaction is positive on the part of the public,” Puno said.

Asked which part of the draft constitution made him feel proud, Puno said it’s the provisions on the allocation of powers between the federal government and the regional government and on the “division of taxing powers.” He said such provisions “will spell the success or failure of federalism.” 

Concom member retired justice Eduardo Nachura said the draft charter promises “political reforms” and that some of the “revolutionary changes” it could bring are penalizing turncoats, equal representation of political parties and tougher rules against political dynasties.

“These are the engines of democratic governance,” Nachura told reporters. The President convened the Concom on Feb. 19.

Some committee members, however, said they voted for the draft charter with reservations.

Professor Eddie Alih said the Bangsamoro concerns and aspirations did not appear to be adequately addressed in the draft charter.

Another Concom member, Ali Pangalian Balindong, said the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Act should be factored in in a federal constitution.

“The three provisions currently in the draft federal constitution are not enough to right the social injustice against the Bangsamoro people,” Balindong said in explaining his vote.

Roan Libarios and Laurence Wacnang also expressed their reservations on a provision that requires an educational degree for public officials seeking higher positions.

Concom member Randolph Parcasio expressed concern over the designation of “many” federated regions. Former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said he himself has reservations but would rather explain it in writing.

Other members of the committee who expressed reservation were Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes and Victor dela Serna.

Anthon Aguilar said he was concerned that the structure of federated regions does not give enough power to local government units. He also expressed concern over restrictions on land ownership.

Party role

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Chief Executive will encourage his party-mates in Congress to carefully study the draft charter so they could make their own recommendations if necessary.

“I think the President, as chairman of PDP-Laban, the dominant party at the House, will transmit it to his partymates and he will encourage them to study it very closely and if possible to pattern the proposed revisions after what the commission has recommended,” he said.

“But ultimately of course it is the members of Congress who will approve whether or not they will adopt the proposed revisions,” Roque said.

“In that sense, we can only persuade the party mates of the President but we recognize that the decision ultimately will lie in the individual members of the House of Representatives and the Senate,” Roque said.

“We have a super majority in the House. I think, at least in the House, it will be very persuasive. We’re hoping to be equally persuasive in the Senate,” the Palace official added.

But administration critics said Duterte might just “kill” the “noble provisions” the Concom has included in the draft charter.

Akbayan spokesperson Gio Tingson said that the public should be cautious on how Duterte would treat Concom’s recommendations, as he is likely to “kill provisions that go against his interests.”

“Duterte is the exact opposite of his Concom’s charter. Some of the Concom’s noble proposals have already been rejected by the Duterte administration, as we have seen and heard in his actions and statements,” Tingson said.

“It is unlikely that President Duterte will listen to experts, even ones he appointed,” he added.

Nachura said the Concom’s recommendations are not yet final and that the panel could always make adjustments depending on the President’s wishes.

“We will (adjust) because after all, he is the one who is going to submit this to Congress. Wala naman kaming poder na direct na mag-amend ng (We have no direct power to amend) the Constitution,” Nachura told reporters.

“We submit this to the President, if he says ‘it’s not what I want’ he will not give it to Congress – therefore nothing happens,” he added.

He said there is still enough time to make necessary adjustments “if the President says so.” He clarified though that the people – through regional consultations and presentations – can make their own recommendations. Nachura also said the President himself appeared not too eager to intervene in the deliberations on Charter change.

He recalled a meeting with Duterte where the latter told them “I leave it all up to you” when asked if he had any specific instructions regarding the drafting of a new charter. –  With Christina Mendez

vuukle comment




  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with