What is a federal-presidential system of gov't?

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2018 09:41 PM | Updated as of Dec 20 2019 03:37 PM

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MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte's consultative body on charter change has opted for a shift from the present unitary-presidential system of government to federal-presidential. 

Majority of the members of the committee chose the presidential model, with former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. citing its familiarity for Filipinos, given their long history of choosing a president as their leader.

But what is the federal-presidential system of government?

Under the proposed system, the president will serve as both head of state and head of government.

The country will also keep the current set-up of the national government, where there are 3 main branches: the executive, legislative, and judiciary.

However, instead of centralizing power with the national government, the country will now have individual states with their own federal legislature and state governments.

Professor Edmund Tayao, a member of the advisory body, said half of the assembly will be composed of legislators selected through a system of proportional representation or their political party.

The other half, he said, will be composed of representatives from legislative districts.

"The more important way to go about now is to look at the details, so that if enough details can be filled in and the public can be well-informed of the details, how this plays right into the final analysis, then hopefully it can allay the fears that are often raised by the opposition," Tayao said.

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Lawyer Raul Lambino, a federalism advocate, said that under this model, national concerns would be addressed by the federal government under the president.

These include national security, monetary policy, and foreign relations, among others.

Domestic or state issues, meanwhile, will be handled by state governments. These issues include concerns about marital laws and the criminal justice system.

Countries that have a federal-presidential system of government include the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Nigeria, among others.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who chairs the committee, said the federal-presidential form of government is the "best" in the world.

"Beyond the debate, the federal form of government in the United States is the best form of federal government in the world," Puno told ANC Wednesday.

He added that the committee has yet to discuss the executive powers that would be exercised by the president under the proposed form of government, but he assured that there would still be a system of checks and balances.

"We will be examining different kinds of executive power that can be exercised by the President," he said.

Duterte's consultative body has yet to discuss the details of the federal-presidential model, but Puno said there is a need for a "strong center” under a federal Philippines.

"We need a president with such a plenitude of executive powers so he would not fail in leading our people in their continuing odyssey to peace, progress, and prosperity," Puno told members of the committee on Tuesday.

The Duterte administration is pushing for the shift to federalism saying this would help spur long-stunted development in the provinces. 

However, Congress may still either accept or dismiss the proposals.

"Well, lahat po ng isu-submit ng constitutional consultative commission sa amin ay pag-uusapan po dito 'yan at pagdedebatehan," House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said. - with additional report from Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News