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Duterte receives ‘Bayanihan’ federalism draft

Updated

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Seven months after forming the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the 1987 Philippine Constitution, President Duterte finally received the proposed federal charter which seeks to establish a distinct federalism in the country.

The 22 members of the ConCom, chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, handed over the draft federal constitution to Duterte in a ceremony in Malacañang Monday afternoon.

While Duterte did not deliver a speech in the said event, Puno, in his speech, lauded the draft constitution and referred to it as a “Bayanihan Federalism” which keeps in mind the welfare of the people as the supreme law.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Seven months after forming the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the 1987 Philippine Constitution, President Duterte finally received the proposed federal charter which seeks to establish a distinct federalism in the country.

The 22 members of the ConCom, chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, handed over the draft federal constitution to Duterte in a ceremony in Malacañang Monday afternoon.

While Duterte did not deliver a speech in the said event, Puno, in his speech, lauded the draft constitution and referred to it as a “Bayanihan Federalism” which keeps in mind the welfare of the people as the supreme law.

According to Puno, the bayanihan federalism installs a federal government strong enough to glue the various federated regions and establishes federated regions that are socially, economically and politically viable and sustainable.

“We divided the powers of government guided by the Filipino spirit of bayanihan (cooperative endeavor) where both the federal government and the federated regions govern the people less in competition but more in cooperation with one another, and aligned with the maxim the welfare of the people is the supreme law,” he said.

Puno assured that the ConCom did not stray from Duterte’s only directive when the committee was formed–to do what is best for the people.

“We assure you that the Consultative Committee did its work with complete independence and unbiased by any partisan politics or elite interest,” he said.

Puno also said that while they have already finished their main duty of reviewing the existing Constitution, the ConCom will wait for further instructions.

Duterte issued Executive Order No. 10 on December 7, 2016, creating the ConCom. In January this year, Duterte started naming the members of the committee. Among its notable members are Puno, and former Senate President Nene Pimentel.

Over the weekend, Malacañang said that the submission of the draft constitution is a significant step closer to realizing Duterte’s promise of a federal government. However, it said Monday that while Duterte might still review the proposed charter before submitting it to Congress.

Duterte has been pushing for federalism to address issues such as overconcentration of powers in the national government, and the territorial dispute in Mindanao.

New instructions

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the ConCom agreed to Duterte’s order to craft a provision that will allow him to step down from office and seek the election of a transitional leader.

“‘I Instructed Consultative Committee to elect a transitional President. I am willing to cut my term to be co- terminus with start of transition period. Committee agreed. Its to remove all suspicions and I am tired. Ready to give it to somebody else,'” Roque said in his Twitter account, quoting the President.

“‘Electing a transitional leader would enable a younger leader to take-over,'” he added.

Politics and economy

While not going into detail about the content of the draft federal government, Puno assured that the proposed charter addresses certain political issues like dynasties and party system.

“The Draft Constitution democratized our electoral process by prohibiting political dynasties that have long monopolized our elections. At the same time, the Draft Constitution transformed political parties as mechanisms of citizen representation and democratic governance,” Puno said.

“Under this Draft Constitution, political turncoatism is prohibited, hence, political butterflies cannot flutter anymore from one political party to another to suck their nectar,” he added.

The former Chief Justice also said that the proposed constitution also levels the economic playing field by creating an independent Competition Commission to stop monopolies and oligopolies that “abuse their dominant positions in the market.”

Addressing corruption

The draft federal constitution also supports Duterte’s fight against corruption in government. According to Puno, the proposed charter strengthens the mandate of the Ombudsman and the Commission and Audit (COA) to address the issue.

“The Draft Constitution transformed the Ombudsman to a commission type office in order to investigate and prosecute more effectively violations of our anti-graft laws,” he said.

“The Draft Constitution also gave the Commission on Audit the power to conduct pre-audit and performance audit and to ensure that the people’s money is spent strictly in accordance with law,” he added.

New Bill of Rights

Puno also boasted that the draft constitution is pro-poor as it allows them to demand from the government their socio-economic rights as stated under the new Bill of Rights.

“For the first time in our history, the socio-economic rights of the poor to adequate food, comprehensive health care, complete education, adequate and decent housing, and livelihood and employment opportunities are included in the Bill of Rights as rights demandable against the government,” Puno said.

“The poor are also guaranteed political representation in the legislatures of the Federal Government and Federated Regions,” he added.

Meanwhile, the former Chief Justice also said that the draft constitutions make the country “indissoluble” as it also recognizes the indigenous peoples.

“The draft constitution established a permanent and indissoluble nation because it recognized the ethnicity, culture, religion, customs, traditions, language and distinct identities of our brothers and sisters in the Cordillera and Bangsamoro,” he added.

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