Drilon: ConCom’s draft federal charter ‘will just serve as reference’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 6) — Senate leaders are not so keen on using the Consultative Committee (ConCom)'s draft of the proposed charter that allows for a shift to a federal form of government.

"The draft will just serve as a reference,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon told reporters Thursday.

Senate President Tito Sotto is pushing for Congress to convene into a constituent assembly to introduce changes to the Constitution.

“What is being presented is a framework of the federal proposal. Nothing is written in stone as of now,” said Sotto.

“All that will be subject to the perspective of the constituent assembly,” he added.

The House of Representatives already approved a resolution that will convene Congress as a constituent assembly, but the Senate has yet to decide on pertinent issues: Whether there is a need to amend the Constitution, and if so, whether it will be done by a constitutional convention or a constituent assembly.

In a constituent assembly, members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate shall convene and decide on constitutional amendments themselves. A constitutional convention, meanwhile, requires nationwide elections or the appointment of legislative representatives.

Another point of contention if Congress opts for a constituent assembly is whether the House and Senate will vote jointly or separately on the proposed revisions.

All 23 senators have said they wanted to make their vote count in a separate voting, and not be irrelevant in a joint voting with 294 representatives.

The draft

Meanwhile, Duterte created a 22-member Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the Constitution. It approved on Tuesday a draft of a proposed federal charter and eyes to submit it to Duterte by July 9.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte will transmit the proposed revisions to his allies at the House of Representatives and encourage them “to pattern the proposed revisions after what the [ConCom] has recommended.”

The shift to a federal form of government was among Duterte's campaign promises, aimed at providing more autonomy and faster development in the regions.

The ConCom has yet to release a copy of the draft constitution, but former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who heads the ConCom, revealed some of the provisions.

Under the ConCom's draft constitution, the country will have 18 federated regions based on the current number of regions, including the Negros region.

The President will still be Chief Executive with a four-year term and can be reelected once. Under the present Constitution, the President can serve for six years with no reelection.

Voters will choose a president-vice president tandem, the draft states.

Meanwhile, two senators will be elected from each of the 18 federated regions.

The draft also states President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo should step down from power on June 30, 2022, dispelling concerns over an extended term for any of them. However, reports say the draft allows them to seek a reelection.

The draft constitution also bans political dynasties. Once approved, only one member of a political family, at least within the second level of affinity or consanguity, will be allowed to run in one national or one regional position. A sitting politician cannot be succeeded by his wife, sons, or daughters.