By Delon Porcalla, November 23 2018; Philippine Star


Image Credit to Business World

MANILA, Philippines — After repeated delays, House lawmakers on Wednesday resumed plenary debates on a draft charter prepared by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that is separate from the federalism proposal of a consultative committee that President Duterte had created.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, chair of the House committee on constitutional amendments, delivered his sponsorship speech while Zamboanga-Sibugay Rep. Wilter Palma II defended the draft federal constitution, or the approved Resolution of Both Houses 15, on the floor.

The measure was initially taken up in October, but was remanded to the Veloso committee after Arroyo discovered that the provision for joint voting of the Senate and the House remained, when she actually preferred separate voting of the two legislative chambers.

Resolution of Both Houses 15 seeks to propose revisions in the 1987 Constitution, wherein under Arroyo’s draft charter, the (next) President (in 2022) will have a term of four years and will be entitled to one re-election – just like in the US.

“The only thing I added was a provision that instead of establishing the federal states, there’s a mechanism establishing the federal states. All the other provisions were already submitted by the Concom and everyone else,” Arroyo told reporters in October.

“That’s the only thing I added to make it my version,” the Pampanga congresswoman explained further, pointing out that lifting the term limits for senators will really be up to them, it being “a collegial decision.”

Under Resolution of Both Houses 15, the form and structure of the government will be presidential-bicameral-federal system.

The President and the Vice President will have the same powers and functions as stated in the 1987 Constitution.

However, a vote for the President will also be good for the Vice President, and they should belong to the same party. In short, it’s a bundled vote.

The draft federal charter will retain a bicameral legislative department, wherein the House of Representatives will be composed of not more than 300 members, and the Senate composed of 24 senators.

A total of 80 percent of the House members will be composed of lawmakers from legislative districts across the country from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, while the remaining 20 percent will comprise what is called the party-list lawmakers.

Members of the legislative branch will have a term of four years, as opposed to the current term of three years in the 1987 Constitution.

As for the judiciary, members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts will be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council, which will be created in lieu of the Judicial and Bar Council.

Members of the SC will serve for a term of 10 years or until they reach the mandatory age of 70.

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.

Local governments and federal states will have no 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.