File photo shows presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo together with President Rodrigo Duterte. Panelo said Congress should listen to former Chief Justice Renato Coronona on amendments in the proposed federal draft charter.
Presidential photo/Robinson Niñal, File photo
Palace to Congress on Cha-cha: Listen to Puno, be open to amendments
Ryan Macasero ( - December 14, 2018 - 2:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — Following the approval of a federalism charter in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Friday that the Congress should “listen" to the former Chief Justice Renato Puno and be open to amendments. 

“Otherwise the danger of rejecting the proposed amendments of the Constitution would be a waste of people’s money,” Panelo said.

Puno headed the Constitutional Commission (ConCom), which submitted its proposed draft constitution to Malacañang last July.

The resolution passed in the House of Representatives, however, was not the ComCom's version, but was filed as resolution of both Houses 15 (RBH 15), authored by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga) and 21 other members of the House.

Puno told The STAR on Wednesday that the Congress’ version does not serve its purpose as it did not include their proposed anti-political dynasty provisions and the division of powers between the federal government and its states.

“What the House did (was) a unitary (form of government), but dressed as federalism. If that is federalism, the powers of government will be clearly divided between the federal government and the states, and should be written in the Constitution – it’s not in the House version,” Puno said.

The former chief justice said that in federalism, the powers should be written in the Constitution itself.

READ: Renato Puno slams Congress' proposed federal charter

When asked if President Rodrigo Duterte supports the House's version of charter change, Panelo said: "As far I'm concerned, there is a need to submit drafts in Congress with respect to amendments and needs to the constitutions. Drafts must be reviewed, consolidated and get the best of the provisions of each draft. And they should make a common draft."

According to the presidential spokesman, Duterte said that he would campaign against the ratification of the proposed draft of the Constitution “should Congress introduce amendments to the constitution —  and they meet as a constituent assembly — and it is against the interest against the people."

Some features of the House's proposed draft charter include allowing the president and vice president two four-year terms, instead of one six year term—similar to the system in the United States.

The draft federal charter also states that territorial and political subdivisions of the country will have political autonomy.

Federal states may be created upon petition of any contiguous, compact and adjacent provinces, highly urbanized and component cities, and cities and municipalities in metropolitan areas.

According to a report by InterAksyon, the anti-dynasty provisions were removed from the draft and the parameters on foreign investors' part in governing private entities were likewise deleted.

INTERAKSYON: How House of Representatives’ draft federal charter differs from Consultative Committee version

Local governments and federal states will have the power to create their own sources of revenue and impose taxes, fees and charges.

The national government will provide local governments with their just share in national taxes as determined by law.

All branches of the government will continue to function in a transitory capacity until all successors are elected.

Arroyo's draft charter doesn't establish federal states but creates the mechanism that establishes them, while the ConCom's version creates 18 federal states.

One of Duterte’s campaign promises during the 2016 elections was to prioritize amending the charter to shift to a federal system of government.

Prior to the approval of Arroyo's bill amending the charter, senators said they were doubtful that they would have time to tackle federalism.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that the chamber was too busy working on the national budget to take up federalism. “(The House) should have submitted the (General Appropriations Bill) to us earlier so that we may have time to take up any other controversial measure," Sotto said. — with reports from The STAR

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