Former Chief Justice Puno: Fears over federalism ‘unfounded’
The public’s fears surrounding the proposed transition to a federal form of government are unfounded and will eventually wane, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno said on Tuesday.
Puno, a member of President Duterte’s 22-member Consultative Committee (Con-com), believed that the public’s “unfounded fears” would go away once they are informed about the proposed changes in the Constitution.
“We will reveal all these changes, all these proposals to the public. Those unfounded fears will be diminished, will go away,” Puno told reporters in a chance interview.
“They will see that there is nothing to fear,” the former chief magistrate assured.
Puno made the assurance after personalities affiliated with the opposition warned that the proposed federal constitution would grant term extension for incumbent elected officials.
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay posted a tweet on Tuesday claiming that President Duterte’s allies in Congress will edit the Con-com’s draft to allow term extensions for government officials.
“Once submitted (by the Con-com) to the President, he can give this to allies in Congress who can then convert themselves into a Con-Ass,” Hilbay said.
“All they have to do is edit the draft to allow term extension and you’re on your way to a repeat of Marcos’ constitutional dictatorship,” he claimed.
However, Puno stressed that “there will be no term extension for President and Vice President.”
“His term will end in 2022 and that’s it. It’s not open-ended,” Puno said.
The 22-member Con-com, which started convening on February 19, approved the final draft of the federal Constitution on July 3, Tuesday.
As of writing, the final draft is being subject to refining, editing for style and proofreading for consistency before it would be submitted to Duterte on or before July 9. /vvp
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