By Ryan Macasero, December 11 2018; Philippine Star


Image Credit to Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:04 p.m.)  The House of Representatives, by a vote of 224-22-3, passed on the third and final reading Resolution of Both Houses 15, a measure seeking to revise the 1987 Constitution and create a Federal Republic of the Philippines.

The resolution was authored by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (Pampanga) and 21 other members of the House.

The resolution was approved on second reading last week.

Arroyo earlier denied accusations that the measure was railroaded through the House, where members who voted against it on Tuesday said they had not been given a chance to interpellate or ask questions.

We sent it to them, it was voted on. It’s part of the democratic process,” Arroyo said last Friday.

Senate might not have time for charter change

Senators said last week that they were doubtful the Senate would have time to tackle federalism.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the chamber is too busy working on the national budget, which the House of Representatives transmitted over a month behind schedule

“(The) chances of the federal draft charter making it in the Senate at this point are very doubtful,” said Sotto. “(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.”

Consultative committee spokesperson condemns House charter

Conrado “Ding” Generoso,  former spokesperson of the consultative committee that President Rodrigo Duterte formed to study amendments to the 1987 Constitution, condemned the draft charter that the House approved.

“We reiterate in the strongest terms our opposition to this version of a draft federal constitution,” Generoso said in a text message to BusinessWorld. He called the draft “disgusting.”

“This is not a step forward. It’s many steps backward in reforming our political system and instituting any real and meaningful system change,” the senatorial candidate said. “We condemn this Arroyo draft. i-diretso ito sa basurahan (it should go straight to the trash can),” BusinessWorld’s Gillian Cortez quoted him as saying

He said he would support the draft prepared by the consultative committee, which was chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno. The committee submitted its version to the president in July.

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 termsimilar 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 an InterAksyon report, the anti-dynasty provisions were removed from the draft and the paramters on foreign investors’ part in governing private entities were 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.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay tweeted “we need to unite against this clear and present danger to our democracy.”

He said, “if  the senate refuses to participate in Arroyo’s charter change, it might be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the House can propose changes to the Constitution on its own.

Hilbay is also running for the Senate as an opposition candidate next year.

This is a developing story

— Ryan Macasero