The ConCom chairman, retired chief justice Reynato Puno, said the panel would present the draft charter shifting to a federal form of government to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 9 in Malacañang, ahead of the State of the Nation Address.
Under the proposed new charter, the President’s term will end in 2022. “That’s it. It’s not open-ended,” Puno said.
“We specifically stated there that there will be no term extension for the president and the vice president. In fact, we are not even sure whether he will accept the position of a transitory president or the person who will preside in the transition to the federal government,” he said.
The draft charter seeks to carve at least 18 federated regions corresponding to the 17 existing regions plus the Negros Island region.
Puno said a plebiscite should be held next year, to give the public time to understand the new constitution.
It should be a standalone plebiscite and not held simultaneously with the 2019 mid-term elections, “so that the people can focus on the merit of the proposed constitution,” he said.
22 signatories, 22 articles
Former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. opened the voting to approve the proposed draft charter shifting to federal form of government.
After it was seconded by another panel member, Puno declared the draft constitution approved by the ConCom.
The ConCom members then signed the proposed constitution one by one.
The signatories were: Susan Ubalde-Ordinario, Arthur Aguilar, Eddie Alih, Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, Antonio Arellano, Ali Pangalian Balindong, Virgilio Bautista, Ferdinand Bocobo, Reuben Canoy, Roan Libarios, Jose Martin Loon, Antonio Nachura, Randolph Parcasio, Bienvenido Reyes, Rex Robles, Rodolfo Robles, Victor de la Serna, Edmund Tayao, Julio Teehankee, Laurence Wacnang, Pimentel and Puno.
The 78-page draft charter contains 22 articles, as follows: Article 1—National Territory; Article 2—Declaration of Principles and State Policies; Article 3—Bill of Rights; Article 4—Citizenship; Article 5—Suffrage and Political Rights; Article 6—People’s Initiative, Plebiscite and Referendum; Article 7—Legislative Department; Article 8—Executive Department; Article 9—Judicial Department; Article 10—Constitutional Commissions; Article 11—Federated Regions and Federated Regions of Bangsamoro and the Cordilleras; Article 12—Distribution of Powers of the Government; Article 13—Fiscal Powers and Financial Administration; Article 14—Accountability of Public Officers; Article 15—National Economy and Patrimony; Article 16—Social Justice; Article 17—Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports; Article 18—The Family; Article 19—National Security and Public Order; Article 20—General Provisions; Article 21—Amendments or Revisions; and Article 22—Transitory Provisions.
Asked to comment on some fears that the ConCom was being used to sanitize Charter change, Puno said, “I do not think there is foundation to that fear. The committee has always acted independently. From day one until today, we have not received any specific instruction from the President.”
He said the “heart” of the draft constitution is the allocation of powers between the federal government and the regional government, especially the division of taxation powers.
“This is most important because it will spell the success or the failure of the federalism that we installed in our constitution. If the allocation of powers is wrong you can expect a failure on the part of the federal government that we established,” Puno added.
Duterte to endorse draft
Malacañang said on Tuesday President Rodrigo Duterte would endorse to his allies in Congress the ConCom’s proposed charter, but would leave it to them to decide whether or not to adopt it.
“I think the President, as chairman of PDP (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan)-Laban, the dominant party at the House, will transmit it to his party-mates and he will encourage his party mates to study it very closely and if possible to pattern the proposed revisions after what the commission has recommended,” Roque said in a news conference.
“But ultimately it is members of Congress who will [decide]whether or not they will adopt the proposed revisions.
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,” he added.
Roque noted that Duterte allies hold the “supermajority” 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,” he said.
The shift to a federal form of government, aimed at providing more autonomy and spurring faster development in the regions, was among the President’s campaign promises.