By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments decided on Tuesday, January 28 to “hold in abeyance” its committee report on Charter change resolution it approved last year to consider the proposals made by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform.
During its initial deliberation on the proposed constitutional amendments by the Task Force, members of the panel agreed to shelve its Committee Report No. 1 on its originally proposed Cha-cha resolution to incorporate the proposals of the Task Force, led by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“We are not going to have the plenary debates. We hold in abeyance Committee Report No. 1, the approved committee report on the four proposed amendments to be able to consider the proposals of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, said.
The committee report has been signed by the panel members and House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has yet to sign the committee report.
During the hearing, the panel members also agreed to defer the discussion on the Task Force’s anti-political dynasty amendments to the Constitution.
Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said such provision needs “thorough study.”
“This is a very contentious and controversial issue that needs thorough study. I strongly suggest that we defer [the discussion on] this Section 7…. because we are curtailing an ordinary citizen’s right to vote,” he said.
Isabela Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano described such provision as “very anti-democratic.”
Under the proposal of Task Force, a political dynasty exists when a family whose members are related as a spouse, and up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether such relations are legitimate, illegitimate, half or full blood, maintains or is capable of maintaining political control by succession or by simultaneously running for or holding elective positions.
The Task Force also proposed that no person related to an incumbent elective official as a spouse, and within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, as described above, can run for the same position in the immediately following the election.
“Persons related as a spouse, and within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, as described above, cannot run simultaneously and hold office for Governor and Vice Governor, and Mayor and Vice Mayor, respectively. The democratic principle of check and balance between co-equal branches of government must be upheld at all times,” it said.
The Task Force also proposed that Congress may, by law, provide for additional prohibitions.
On February 4, the Task Force is set to brief all the House members on its proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.