Draft Charter Change up for submission to Duterte

Jul. 04, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — The Consultative Committee (Con-com) tasked to review the 1987 Philippine Constitution unanimously approved on Tuesday the entire draft of its proposed federal constitution.

The affirmative vote came about four and a half months after President Rodrigo Duterte’s Con-com convened on February 19.

The 22-member panel hoped to submit the draft to the President on or before July 9— as originally planned— days ahead of his third State of the Nation Address on July 23.

The Con-com has yet to release a copy of the final draft of the federal Charter but a briefer on the highlights of the final draft was provided to the media.

The new Charter proposes to form 18 federated regions once the country shifts to a federal system.

The list is composed of 16 symmetrical regions: 15 existing regions plus the Negrosanon federated region which will include the province of Siquijor, among others and two asymmetrical regions, the Bangsamoro and the Cordillera.
The federated regions will be given a share of not less than 50 percent of all the collected taxes on income, excise, value-added tax, and customs duties.

The regions will also receive an equalization fund which will not be less than 3 percent of the annual General Appropriations Act.

The Con-com’s final draft states that the President and Vice President of a federal government must be college graduates, and should also run as a ticket or tandem, not individually.

A mandatory Cabinet position must also be provided for the Vice President, and the appointment would not be questioned by the Commission on Appointments, it added.

The draft also states that the House of Representatives will be elected by legislative districts, by proportional representation system of registered political parties, and by sectoral representation of socio-economically disadvantage sectors, according to the proposed provisions.

The Senate meanwhile, will be composed of senators elected by region. Members of both chambers will be required to have a college degree.

No political dynasties

Political families and dynasties will be banned under the federal government proposed by Con-com.

The draft only allows a family to run for only two positions in an election; one member for a national position and the other for a regional position.

The federal Charter drafted by the Con-com also bans turncoats among political parties, in a bid to promote and strengthen political parties as public institutions.

Campaign contributions from religious organizations and foreigners are banned.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President was expected to transmit the draft’s copy to Congress after he receives it on July 9.

Roque said Duterte would also persuade his allies to pattern the proposed revisions in the Charter after what the Committee has recommended.

But Congress has the final say on whether to affirm or reject the recommendations, he said.

Duterte’s allies in Congress have been pushing for Charter change (Cha-cha) which could lead into a shift to a federal form of government. This was one of Duterte’s campaign promises, and an advocacy of his party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

The lower House has earlier adopted a resolution for a constituent assembly that will amend the Constitution for a shift to federalism, but the Senate has yet to decide whether the Charter’s amendment should be done by a Con-ass or by an elected constitutional convention. (davaotoday.com)

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