ConCom chair: House version of charter is not 'real' federalism

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Consultative committee chairman Reynato Puno slams the removal of term limits for lawmakers.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — Former Chief Justice and Consultative Committee (ConCom) chairman Reynato Puno believes the House of Representatives' version of the draft federal charter is not "real federalism.

"I've studied the draft and it does not appear to me as a real federalism. It would seem that it is a unitariansm dressed in federalism," Puno told CNN Philippines The Source.

Under unitarianism, the central government is supreme and it delegates powers to local units, similar to the current setup. The opposite of this is federalism, where the government shares equal powers with local units while having reserved powers of their own.

"You know the main picture of a federal government is the clear delineation of powers between the federal government and the constituent states. This division of powers would divide the exclusive powers of government, the shared powers, as well as the reserved powers," Puno said.

The House version of the federal charter, filed by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, retains the presidential form but gives Congress the power to create federal states.

But Puno said the creation of federal states must be enshrined in the Constitution, and not a constitutional power granted by Congress.

"This cannot be given by a law passed by Congress. That is the essence of federalism. In this House version, there's no allocation of powers between the federal government and the states," he said.

Puno said Congress also removed provisions relating to term limits and the ban on political dynasties, which they put in the version of the draft federal charter they submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

In the ConCom version, no member of Congress can serve for more than two terms of four years each.

He said he will raise the following issues with the President.

"We're soliciting the individual views of all the embers of the Consultative Committee and they have sent in thewir views except for one or two. Thereafter, we shall consolidate these viewpoints and write a letter to the President, seek his audience, so that we can have his appropriate advice," he explained.

Arroyo's version is back in the committee level to restore the Vice President in the succession line during the transition to a federal government, a lawmaker said Thursday.