Alvarez backs Charter change to allow federalism, 2-party system
Incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Friday said he would push for revising entirely the 1987 Constitution to pave the way for a federal system of government under the administration of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.
In an interview after the signing of a coalition agreement with Nationalist People’s Coalition, Alvarez said as Duterte’s choice for speaker, he would push not just to amend the Charter but to completely revise it.
Alvarez said he was even open to amending the Constitution to put in place a two-party system and put an end to a culture of turncoatism in Philippine politics.
Alvarez said the Constitution may even clearly define a two-party system in Philippine politics to prevent so-called “political butterflies” from jumping ship out of convenience.
“Dun na lang sa bagong Constitution ‘yun. Kasi i-rerevise natin ‘yung bagong Constitution. Baka dun pwede natin ilagay, with strong words, na magkaroon ng two-party system, na magiging loyal sa isang partido. Open ako diyan,” Alvarez said.
(There will be provision for that in the new Constitution. We plan on revising the Constitution. We may put it there, in strong words, that there has to be a two-party system, that a politician must be loyal to just one party. I am open to that.)
Alvarez said he would push for a plebiscite that would ratify the amended Constitution during the midterm 2019 elections.
He said while Duterte wanted a constitutional convention, which Alvarez said may be too costly, he was considering the formation of a constitutional commission composed of experts to craft a new Charter, which was done by the late former President Cory Aquino in creating the 1987 Constitution after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.
“’Yung gusto kong i-recommend yung ginawa ni dating Pangulong Cory Aquino (I want to recommend what former President Cory Aquino did), She appointed a commission composed of learned individuals who specialized in their own fields, tapos sila ‘yung gumawa nu’ng (and they were the ones who drafted the) Constitution,” Alvarez said.
“Pagkatapos nu’n gawa na ‘yun (Once it is finished, we can), submit it to Congress as a constituent body, then pag inaprubahan na ‘yun (if it’s approved), submit to a plebiscite,” he added.
Alvarez said he wanted to amend the Constitution in the first half of Duterte’s six-year administration, and to put in place a transition government in the second half to pave the way for a completely federal state of the Philippines.
Asked about the impact of Charter change on investors, Alvarez said: “Eh di mag-hold back sila (They can hold back, it does not matter).”
Alvarez said the revision of the Constitution may also include easing the restrictive economic provisions against foreign ownership and even lifting the term limits of public officials.
“Pag binuksan natin ‘yung revision ng Constitution, lahat ‘yan pag-uusapan. Lahat i-co-consider talaga. You are revising the entire Constitution so lahat ng nakasulat dun, babaguhin talaga ‘yan. Let’s leave it to the framers,” Alvarez said.
(Once we revise the Constitution, we will discuss everything. We will consider everything. You are revising the entire Constitution so you will really change the provisions. Let’s leave it to the framers.)
Alvarez said once a federal system of government is in place, there would be no need for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the pet bill of the administration of outgoing President Benigno Aquino III whose government signed a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Duterte has pushed for federalism as an alternative to the BBL, the passage of which hit a snag after the MILF despite the peace deal got embroiled in a shoot-out with the Special Action Force cops in the middle of a botched antiterror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25, 2015, that resulted in the deaths of 44 elite cops.
The BBL would have wanted to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a more politically autonomous and financially-stable Bangsamoro region.
The bill, which was killed by the 16th Congress before the election period, was criticized for its constitutionally contentious provisions allegedly intended to create a Moro substate.
“Minumungkahi natin ang federalism. Kung pinag-uusapan natin ang federalism, naturally, wala na ’yung BBL kasi yung laman ng BBL at federalism, pareho, kanya lang po, we’re making it available for the rest of the nation. Lahat na,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez added that he would push for the reinstatement of capital punishment, even telling off the United Nations, which has said the death penalty does not belong to the 21st century.
“We will be pushing for the reinstatement of the death penalty. That is definite. I’m confident it will be passed,” Alvarez said.
“Leave it to the UN. That is their own opinion,” he added.
The crime-busting Duterte is consolidating his forces in the lower House to push for his legislative agenda.
He is pushing for death penalty by hanging, at one point saying that a person convicted with two heinous crimes should be hanged until his or her head is cut off.
Capital punishment was repealed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 for its failure to curb the rise of criminality.
Alvarez said he hoped his fellow lawmakers with a “Catholic” conscience “would see the light of day.” IDL/rga/RC