Ousted chief justice warns against charter change

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 7) — Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno raised concerns over the progress of the move to change the constitution.

The ousted chief justice said she read unofficial copies available online, and also watched press briefings of the body drafting the charter.

Sereno said based on what she read and watched, she sees no need to change the Constitution.

Sereno also debunked the notion that the economic empowerment of the regions can only be done through a federal form of government. 

“There is nothing that will prevent this present Congress to give economic benefit to regions and provinces that they cannot do so now with the present Constitution and using their legislative powers,” Sereno said during a forum Saturday in Metro Manila. "Gawin lang ng Congress ang trabaho nila."

She also flagged the possibility of double taxation under the new federal government, as citizens might have to pay taxes to the federal state and the national government.

“There will now be several levels of taxes, federal taxes, state taxes, fees, and even barangays are authorized to assess fees. Wala hong [There is no] built-in mechanism na naiisip ang komisyon [that the commission have in mind] to prevent double taxation,” Sereno said.

The draft of the proposed federal constitution will be submitted to the President on Monday.

ConCom spokesperson hits back

“As a matter of courtesy, the President will get the official copy first and then we release immediately to the public,” said Ding Generoso, spokesperson of the Consultative Committee tasked to review the Constitution.

In a statement, Generoso also clarified double taxation is not allowed in the draft constitution.

Generoso cited Section 3, Article XIII of the proposed federal charter which reads:

The Federal Government and the Federated Regions shall endure that taxation shall be uniform, equitable, and progressive. No double taxation shall be allowed.

"Also, the word 'barangay' appears only once in the entire draft Constitution — and it has nothing to do with 'fees' but with the jurisdiction of the Electoral Court," Generoso said.

Generoso lambasted the former chief justice saying “I don’t know what draft Constitution she read but she certainly has a fertile imagination.”