MANILA—The Malacañang experts’ group is putting the finishing touches on a new federal constitution, but facing the challenge of generating broad public support behind its proposed political and structural reforms.
The consultative committee is set to finish drafting the new charter over the weekend, said its media officer Conrado Generoso, and will begin on Monday a 2-month regional consultation to further fine tune its proposal.
Part of the challenge is explaining the basic principles of federalism, considering that based on one survey, 7 out of 10 Filipinos had little idea of this system of government.
President Rodrigo Duterte could receive the draft even before the committee’s self-imposed deadline of July 9, Generoso said, giving the palace at least 2 weeks to review the proposals.
The proposed constitution, which would still have to be considered in the planned constituent assembly, is expected to be longer than the 1987 charter, committee members said, citing new provisions such as those on political party reforms.
The committee is eyeing 18 federated regions, including the Metropolitan Manila Region, which would have a governor and vice governor, and an assembly — all of whom would be elected directly by the people.
For the other regions, the 2 top officials will be chosen by members of the assembly, said political science professor Julio Teehankee, a member of the consultative committee.
METRO MANILA GOVERNOR
Concerns were often raised before over the set-up of the existing Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
There were instances where elected mayors clashed with the MMDA chairman, a presidential appointee, over certain policy decisions.
“One way of addressing that is really to have an elected governor and even elected assembly,” said Teehankee.
He said the consultative committee was yet to decide on the federal capital, which need not necessarily be Metro Manila.
Half of Metro Manila’s 34-member regional assembly will be elected from single-member district.
The rest will be picked from a closed-list system of proportional representation, where voters will pick political parties, which would then hold any of the remaining 17 seats depending on how many votes they receive.
The consultative body on Thursday also announced the creation of a “democracy fund,” which would allow ordinary Filipinos to contribute money to finance the campaign of their preferred political parties or candidates.
Contributions will translate to full tax credit, the committee said.
A citizen can chip in between P10,000 and P100,000 to the proposed common fund to be administered by the Commission on Elections, and subject to the scrutiny of the Commission on Audit.
Corporations can also contribute from P100,000 to P3 million to the fund, which will be distributed to political parties based on guidelines to be drafted by the Comelec.
For individual candidates, only those running for president will be entitled to the common fund, said Teehankee.
Ordinary citizens, he said, would now “have a better opportunity of supporting directly candidates whom they believe will carry their cause or their interest.“
“We will crowd source for democracy. Let’s hope it works,” he said in a press conference.
Generoso said the proposed common fund was intended to address the practice of many elected officials resorting to corruption to recoup their campaign expenses.
“It is a big cause of corruption,” he said. “Lahat ng ginastos sa kampanya, kailangan bawiin so kailangang kumupit. Yan ang buhay ng pulitiko sa Pilipinas.”