Lagman: Transition panel for federalism to give undue powers to Duterte
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman warned Thursday that the creation of a Federal Transition Commission (FTC), as proposed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s Consultative Committee (Con-com), is a “veritable red flag” that could give excessive powers to the Chief Executive.
For Lagman, the FTC was a “devious innovation” by Con-com to make Duterte the first federal president since he is not prohibited from running in the first elections set on the second Monday of May 2022.
“This transition commission is a veritable red flag that should alert us that this is a cunning innovation that can spawn a host of excesses and even more impunity,” Lagman said in a press statement.
Last Monday, the 22-member recommendatory body submitted to the President its proposed new Charter under the federal form of government.
Lagman said that unlike in the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, where the transitory provisions were self-implementing and the mode of transition categorically spelled out, Con-com’s draft federal Constitution empowers Duterte to chair a transition commission whose members shall be appointed by him.
The leader of the House Magnificent opposition bloc listed the following provisions in the draft federal Charter, which he described as giving inordinately vast powers to the FTC:
- Promulgate and adopt a “transition plan” which could have been easily provided for in the proposed Federal Constitution’s transitory provisions like in the previous Constitutions;
- Exercise rule-making power to implement the transition plan and assume adjudicatory functions to “resolve all issues and disputes that may arise therefrom” which would empower the President to arrogate legislative and judicial jurisdiction, according to Lagman; and
- Organize, reorganize and fully establish the Federal Government and the governments of the Federated Regions “in accordance with the Constitution”. Lagman said this is redundant and extraneous because the Federal Government and the federated regions are already organized under the proposed Federal Charter, while any reorganization is a legislative function.
Lagman cautioned that if the proposed federal Charter is ratified in 2019, Duterte’s transition commission “would hold unbridled sway for almost three years until June 20, 2022 when the new set of federal, regional and local officials elected in May 2022 assume office.”
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas earlier stressed that the work of the Con-com is only recommendatory. Congress, once it convenes as a Constituent assembly (Con-ass), has the authority to propose amendments to the prevailing 1987 Constitution, they said.
Amending the Consitution can be done either through Con-ass, composed of sitting legislators, or Constitutional Convention (Con-con), composed of experts elected by the people in a plebiscite.
The proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution being pushed by Duterte’s allies in Congress could pave the way to a shift to a federal form government, which was among Duterte’s campaign promises and an advocacy of his political party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). /kga
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