Draft federal Charter subject to deliberations of Con-ass – Sotto
Nothing is set in stone.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III made this assertion on the draft federal Charter of the 22-member Consultative Committee (Con-com), noting that the proposal is still subjecto congressional scrutiny and deliberations.
The Con-com, which was tasked to review the 1987 Constitution and draw a new Charter, uninamously approved the federal constitution proposal on Tuesday – after four and a half months since it was created by President Rodrigo Duterte in February.
“But all that will be subject to the perspective of (the) Constituent Assembly. What is being presented is a framework of (the) federal proposal. Nothing is written in stone as ok now,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.
Pressed if the Senate would be willing to adopt the Con-com proposals upon Duterte’s persuasion, Sotto said “it’s not that easy,” even doubting the President would interfere with them.
“How can you adopt something you have not studied, reviewed or understood? Madali sa salita, mahirap sa gawa. Besides, knowing the President, he will not do that. He has never interfered with us. I doubt if he will interfere now,” he said.
The Senate leader also dismissed any possibility that a referendum for the new federal Charter could happen in 2019.
“We have not approved (the) calendar for (the) 3rd regular session of (the) 17th congress, how can they project that timetable?” he asked.
The Con-com aims to submit the draft federal Charter to the President on or before July 9 – in time for his third State of the Nation Address on July 23. The Con-com said it will release the official copy of draft federal Charter “after it is submitted to the President—as a matter of courtesy.”
Among the highlights of the draft federal Charter are provisions allowing the 18 federated regions to impose and manage their own taxes as well as election of two senators for each region.
Although the draft federal Charter barred a term extension, “there was no explicit prohibition on reelection,” as pointed out by Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, at a forum hosted by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on Thursday.
The Lower House earlier adopted a resolution which seeks to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly (Con-ass) to amend the 1987 Constitution. It is also pushing for a joint voting of Congress, which the Senate is strongly opposing.
Under a Con-ass, the power to amend the Constitution will be given to sitting legislators. But under a Constitutional Convention (Con-con), the authority to amend the Constitution will given to individuals who will be elected by the people in a plebiscite.
Moves to amend the 1987 Constitution and shift to a federal form of government are among Mr. Duterte’s campaign promises and an advocacy of his party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). /kga