In their letter, Professor Edmund Tayao, a member of the Concom said they will point out the questionable provisions even as Congress restored on Wednesday the succession provision of the Vice President following widespread criticism.
Malacañang photo/File
Consultative committee writes to Duterte on House federalism draft
Robertzon Ramirez, Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - October 12, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the consultative committee (Concom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution will formally inform President Duterte in a letter that the draft charter of the House of Representatives is questionable and must be made public in the interest of transparency.

Professor Edmund Tayao, a member of the Concom, said in an interview with The Chiefs on Cignal TV’s One News channel that they will write the President to distance themselves from the House proposal, which became controversial for removing Vice President Leni Robredo from the line of succession, lifting term limits of elected officials and provisions on anti-political dynasty.

“We came up with the letter so that we can send it to the President and then will tell him that we’re not expecting this to come out… the main idea really is just to insist that this is not the Concom’s draft,” he said. 

In their letter, Tayao said they will point out the questionable provisions even as Congress restored on Wednesday the succession provision of the Vice President following widespread criticism. 

Tayao said the Filipino people deserve to know the content of the proposed charter, as he believes that changing the Constitution should be based on the country’s history and the context of politics and governance. 

Tayao also emphasized that the Concom wants to know if the lawmakers are into real change. 

Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin also told The Chiefs that Congress’ proposal is part of the “fallout on the speakership issue,” as Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tries to assert legitimacy and relevance in Congress. 

“It’s part of her gambit to win the attention of Malacañang, but again, the draft charter itself, which is not a federal charter, cannot win her the support of Malacañang,” Villarin said. 

“This gambit won’t really have stakeholders in it aside of course for her own party to be consolidated. This is also a message that she is not out of the game and she plans to possibly have a comeback in the near future,” he added. 

Villarin said Charter change (Cha-cha) should be considered as an election issue and let the people decide whether they support it or not. ?He said the discussion on whether to change the Constitution or not should be given to the public rather than Congress. 

“If the people think that changing the Constitution now is very relevant, then all the politicians running for office in 2019 should make it an issue,” he said. 

Not good

Former Senate president and Concom member Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said retired chief justice Reynato Puno, also a member of the committee, asked for a meeting for them to restate their position on Cha-cha.

“Chief Justice Puno called me up so we can meet… Our observations on the draft charter of Congress such as lack of term limits, sidelining the Vice President, hindi maganda ‘yun (that is not good),” Pimentel said. 

“The revision in the Constitution should not be aimed at any individual,” he added.  

Pimentel said they have yet to decide when they will meet along with some members of the Concom. 

As far as writing the President is concerned, Pimentel said they are not aiming for his intervention, but only to explain to him their position as they believe that Congress will listen to Duterte. 

“He’s the leader of the nation. He is always pertinent and relevant for the good of the nation. The Congress will listen to him,” Pimentel said.  

Term limits retained          

Cebu City Rep. Raul del Mar proposed yesterday the retention of term limits for senators, congressmen and other local officials in the draft federal constitution the House has started to tackle.

“I am against the lifting of term limits as contained in the draft. The restrictions are aimed at giving others a chance to run for public office,” he told a news conference.

He said when the draft is considered for changes, he would present an amendment that would retain term limits.

Del Mar lamented that Arroyo has been “unfairly” criticized for the recommendation of the committee on constitutional amendments chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso to scrap the term limits.

On Monday, Arroyo distanced herself from the committee recommendation.

“That was not my provision. You can ask the others. My only provision was the one on how to establish a federal state… wherein it is the people who will petition and then Congress will have an organic act for every region that is being petitioned. That’s the only thing I added. All the provisions were already submitted by the Concom and everyone else,” she told reporters.

Asked whose idea was the lifting of term limits for House members and senators, she said, “It’s really a collegial decision, because even if I’m the Speaker, decision-making is collegial.”

The Constitution limits senators to two consecutive terms of six years each and House members to three terms of three years each.

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