Concom approves draft Federal Constitution

MANILA, July 3, 2018 – President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Consultative Committee (Concom) tasked to draft a Federal Constitution on Tuesday approved in an en banc session the entire proposal which seeks to distribute powers and resources among regions.

The 22-member Concom held an executive session and later voted to unanimously approve the draft Federal Constitution at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

The Concom’s draft federal Constitution has 22 articles compared to the 1987 Constitution with 18 articles.

Each member took turns signing the draft Federal Constitution with lone female member lawyer Susan Ubalde-Ordinario being the first signatory. The rest of the members were called to sign in alphabetical order.This vote comes over four months after the Concom officially convened on Feb. 19, 2018.

The proposal will be submitted to Duterte on or before July 9, in time for his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.

Former Chief Justice and Concom chairman Reynato Puno told reporters that the “heart” of the draft Federal Constitution is the allocation of powers between federal government and regional government.

Earlier, Concom spokesperson Ding Generoso said that under the draft Federal Constitution, both the federal government and the federated regions will have exclusive powers. But there are powers that they will jointly exercise.

Reservations

Out of the 22 members, only eight had reservations: Laurence Wacnang, Victor De La Serna, Bienvenido Reyes, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Randolph Parcasio, Roan Libarios, Ali Balindong, and Eddie Alih. Meanwhile, Arthur Aguilar had concerns but clarified that they were not reservations.

Wacnang voted yes with reservations over the proposal’s literacy requirement which requires top government officials to be holders of college degrees or the equivalent noting that it was “discriminatory” against the poor who could not afford college education.

De La Serna, Reyes, Pimentel also voted yes with reservations but will explain further in writing. Parcasio also had reservations on the number of federated regions, the lack of clarity on shared powers, the primacy of national policies against policies for indigenous peoples, power of Congress to increase voting capital of certain key industries, and the incomplete work on the Bangsamoro.

Libarios voted yes but disagreed with the literacy requirement, proportional representation which he said does not provide safeguards against political elites, regional governors being elected by the regional assemblies, ban of political switching, and transitory provisions which do not have safeguards against the abuse by the transition commission.

Balindong voted yes with reservations on provisions, which for him, were not enough to right the social injustice experienced by the Bangsamoro people. He wanted the Bangsamoro Organic Act included in the Federal Constitution. Other members will submit their reservations through writing.

Alih voted yes but had reservations similar to Balindong, noting that the Bangsamoro provisions as approved by the en banc should be included in the Federal Constitution since they were left out. Aguilar raised concerns–not reservations–on the structure of federated regions noting that it does not grant more power for the current local government positions such as governors and mayors. He also raised concerns on restrictions on land ownership, that agrarian reform should be shared power, and the cryptic wording of the Constitution on the economy which could be construed as a move toward Socialism.

Puno acknowledged that some of the proposal’s provisions are “debatable” and welcomed the Concom members’ reservations.

“Some of the provisions are inherently debatable so I asked them to express their opinions. If they will that some aspects of the draft Constitution should have been approved, let them say so. That’s the code of conduct that we follow in this committee,” Puno said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said that after receiving a copy of the draft Federal Constitution, Duterte will transmit copies of the proposal to his Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) partymates in the Congress. “I think the President, as chairman of PDP-Laban, the dominant party at the House, will transmit it to his partymates and he will encourage his partymates to study it very closely and if possible to pattern the proposed revisions after what the Commission (referring to Concom) has recommended,” Roque said.

Roque, however, sad that it will be up to the Congress to adopt the proposed revisions or not.

“We can only persuade the partymates 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. (PNA)

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