The 22-member consultative committee (Concom) formed by President Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution formally gave him yesterday his copy of the draft constitution for a federal government envisioned by his administration.
The 22-member consultative committee (Concom) formed by President Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution formally gave him yesterday his copy of the draft constitution for a federal government envisioned by his administration.
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Senators won’t be rushed on federal charter
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Even after Malacañang’s formal acceptance yesterday of its copy of a draft federal constitution prepared by a special panel, senators said they would not be rushed into studying more proposals regarding the administration’s push for a federal system of government through Charter change.

The 22-member consultative committee (Concom) formed by President Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution formally gave him yesterday his copy of the draft constitution for a federal government envisioned by his administration.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the chamber, for one, has yet to receive the draft written by the Concom and would have to conduct hearings on the proposal.

“It doesn’t mean that we have to follow what is in the proposal because we have to take it up. We have to review,” Sotto told reporters.

“Nothing is written yet in stone as far as that proposal is concern. We can change anything that’s written in there,” he added.

He said it would be too early to say when the proposal would be scheduled for hearings as both chambers of Congress have yet to agree on their legislative calendar for the third regular session, which opens on July 23.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, said the panel is still conducting hearings on previously filed measures on Charter change.

“I think we should discuss first whether or not we should change the Charter before we talk about what should be amended,” Pangilinan said.

He described the Concom’s draft as an “input” to the discussions of the committee.

“I don’t want to give any timetable or deadline but we will not block or delay unnecessarily the work of the committee, but definitely we have to process this. We will not rush this,” he said.

He cited polls that showed over 60 percent of Filipinos are against Charter change.

In Bacolod, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez expressed confidence his House colleagues would overwhelmingly approve the version of a federal charter drafted by the Concom.

The draft contains the creation of 18 federal states, including the Negrosanon Federated Region (NFR).

Based on Concom’s proposal, the NFR will comprise Negros Occidental and Oriental and Siquijor.

The Negros Island Region created on May 29, 2015 through an executive order issued by then president Benigno Aquino III consisted of Negros Occidental and Oriental. Duterte abolished the setup through another executive order on Aug. 9, 2017.

Former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela said the regional consultations on the draft charter were meant to secure “endorsements” for Charter change.

“The irony is that the Concom draft – which has some attractive provisions – will just end up getting replaced by a constitutional assembly version that no one has seen yet,” Coscolluela said.

When that other version gets released, there would be little time left for public debate before the planned referendum in May 2019, he added.

“And that seems to be the plan. If they were able to railroad TRAIN, they can do it again with a booby-trapped Cha-cha perfumed by the sweet promises of federalism. It just might happen, too, unless people speak up and say no to Cha-cha, while there is still time,” Coscolluela said.

Worried workers

Labor group Federation of Free Workers (FFW) also voiced its disapproval of the draft charter, citing its “missing” provisions on workers’ rights.

“We cannot wholeheartedly endorse the proposed constitutional draft of former chief justice Renato Puno’s 22-man committee as its social justice provisions (Art XVI) removed or categorically omitted the guarantee to the rights to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiation and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike,” FFW president Sonny Matula said in a statement. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Gilbert Bayoran

CHARTER CHANGE FEDERALISM VICENTE SOTTO III
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