By Mario Casayuran
The creation of a federal government is estimated to cost P55 billion and would mean more taxes from Filipino citizens, Dr. Rosario Manasan of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) told the Senate constitutional amendments and revision of codes said Tuesday.
“It will have to come from the pockets of taxpayers,” Manasan told Sen. Francis Pangilinan, committee chairman, said.
Manasan told the Senate committee that the amount would go to the salaries of regional governors and vice governors, additional senators per region, additional members of the judiciary, and their staff, as well as operating expense of their offices.
The Consultative Committee chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno submitted to the Senate the draft federal constitution last Thursday, July 12. The Senate called for the 10th public hearing on Charter change five days later which was yesterday.
In his opening statement, Pangilinan said that the Senate wants to put Charter change and federalism through a democratic process so that Filipinos might be able to make an informed opinion of the issue.
In the same hearing, University of the Philippine (UP) Political Science Professor Gene Lacza Pilapil described the draft constitution as “twin horrors” and a “reverse power-grab.”
He said the proposed Charter change of the Consultative Committee would effectively remove Vice President Leni Robredo from office.
“These are twin horrors in constitutional engineering and are classic cases of brute political factors overriding any institutional design logic,” Pilapil said.
Pilapil noted that Vice President Robredo’s term would be cut short by request of President Rodrigo Duterte if this constitution pushes through.
“This could only be described as a reverse power grab, or a sort of impeachment-via-new- constitution,” Pilapil said.
Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide shared Pilapil’s views, noting that the draft constitution allows President Duterte to become a dictator.
“Article XXII on Transitory Provisions was completely revised to principally remove the vigorously criticized provisions that would allow the incumbent President to prolong himself in power and thus be a dictator by running for President in the May 2022 elections,” Davide said.
Davide also said that if the removal of “imperial Manila” by decentralizing resources is the goal of changing the Constitution, then the Supreme Court has made this moot with a recent decision.
“The Court ruled that the 40 percent of IRA f(Internal Revenue Allotment)v for the LGUs (local government units) shall be based in all ‘national taxes,’ not only on ‘internal revenue taxes.’ That mortal blow is, again, like the mortal blow Senator Pacquiao delivered to Lucas Matthysse,” Davide said.
“The LGUs can now collect their shares in all the national taxes from the 1992, upon the effectivity of the Local Government Code. According to Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Secretary of Department of Finance as reported in yesterday’s issue of the Philippine Star (Business Section Page B-1), under this decision the amount owed by the national government to the LGUs effective 1992 would reach to P1.5 trillion,” Davide added.
Dr. Ronald Mendoza, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, for his part, read the statement of over 250 academics saying ‘’no’’ to changing the Constitution through a constituent assembly.
Pangilinan’s Senate committee has held nine other hearings on Charter change, four of which in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Cotabato, and Baguio.
n this hearing, the other senators who attended were Juan Edgardo Angara, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and Sherwin Gatchalian.