One of the major planks on the election platform of now-President Rodrigo Duterte has been the ambitious proposal of transitioning the system of government for the Republic of the Philippines into a Federal form in the same vein as that of the United States. This was billed as being to combat the perceived bias of a central national government in Manila. To this end, President Duterte has organized a Consultative Committee (ConCom) to consider needed amendments to the 1986 Constitution to implement federalism. Said ConCom has recently completed a charter proposal for Constitutional change, but it is not yet finalized.
CNN Philippines has it that the Philippine Senate, upon seeing the proposed draft to change the framework of government in the Constitution, is not endorsing the work as the definitive way to pave the way for a transitional government. In the words of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon this Tursday, July 5, the charter draft made by the ConCom will at best serve only as reference to guide the discussions for formulating the actual amendments needed. His pronouncement was reinforced by Senate President Tito Sotto, who said that the ConCom proposal is a framework, and that nothing is definite yet.
From here, the Senate must first vote on two immediate issues concerning the move to transition the government into a federalized form: first, whether such a move actually requires amendments to the Constitution or not; and second, if a Constitutional change is necessary, whether it be done by a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) or by a Constitutional Convention (ConCon). The latter would call for appointment of representatives from various sectors or electing them from across the country. A ConAss only needs both Houses of Congress to convene and decide the amendments, although there is the additional pickle of whether the Senators and Representatives will vote on said decisions separately or combined.
Back to the ConCom, they have yet to release a public copy of their draft federal constitution, which is due to be presented to President Duterte this coming Monday, July 9. However ConCom chairman, and former Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno, has discussed some of its contents to the media.
- A total of 18 federal regions: 1 Federal Capital Region (NCR) and 17 others from existing regions plus the Bangsamoro/Muslim Mindanao and the island of Negros, a federal region in itself
- President remains Chief Executive, and from one 6-year term with no reelection, he now has a 4-year term with possible reelection to one more; he and his vice-presidential running mate are elected in tandem, similar to the United States
- The number of Senators is increased, with two elected from each federal region
- Political “dynasties” are controlled through the restriction of allowing only one member of a political clan (up to the second level of consanguinity) to run for either one national or one regional office; he also cannot delegate his wife or children to succeed him at his post
Image courtesy of BusinessWorld