President, PM share powers under federalism proposal

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2016 05:26 PM | Updated as of Oct 11 2016 07:05 PM

Embattled Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos (right) talks to supporters at his residence in Manila after announcing his resignation 01 October 2007. Romeo Gacad, AFP (File)

MANILA - The president will share executive powers with an equally powerful prime minister in a new government model being prepared by a group of experts tapped to study the Philippines' shift to a federal system.

Under this "dual executive" structure, the President will still be in charge of foreign policy and national security while the Prime Minister will run government with his Cabinet, said political science professor Edmund Tayao, executive director of the Local Government Development Foundation.

"It's not really a question who is more powerful. It's a question of complementing roles," he told ABS-CBN News.

Tayao's group is working with other experts from at least 20 other schools and institutions under the Political Reform Exponents of the Philippines to study a model most suitable for the country.

A draft of the "Philippine-style" model has been discussed with Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, and could be a basis of discussions on the proposed change in the system of government starting next year.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he preferred Congress, sitting as a constituent assembly, to revise the constitution and pave the way for a shift to a federal system.

"The emerging discussion is that we will have a dual executive," Tayao said.

The proposed model in a semi-parliamentary setup will address the problem of removing an unpopular President through the tedious process of impeachment, he said.

Instead, he said the Prime Minister, who will serve as the head of government, could be made accountable and ousted by a vote of no confidence.

"If you're the Prime Minister, you're constantly aware all your actions, all the policies your government will come up with will have to be something that is supported by majority of the members of parliament," Tayao said. 

"He will have to be more facilitative rather than someone who decides unilaterally."

The Prime Minister will come from the party that will control the majority of the national assembly.

The Senate will be retained but there will now be two senators elected to represent each of the 12 federal states. 

Tayao said these states could still be referred to as "regions" because the Philippines would not be reorganized "as if we're separate states like the other countries."