'Best way to change charter': Con-con pushed in shift to federalism

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2018 03:53 PM | Updated as of Jul 16 2018 05:36 PM

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MANILA - The best way to amend the 1987 charter is by having a constitutional convention, where people will elect delegates of a body that will draft a new federal constitution, a lawyer involved in studies on federalism said Monday.

Lawyer Michael Henry Yusingco, an Ateneo School of Government research fellow, said letting lawmakers lead the shift to federalism in a constituent assembly may lead to the deletion of the self-executory ban on political dynasties and other innovative provisions. 

Yusingco pointed out that majority of members of the Congress are part of political dynasties themselves, and genuine constitutional reformers will only have a chance to initiate innovative changes in a constitutional convention. 

"The worst thing that can happen is for political reforms instituted in the federal draft would be removed," he told ANC, referring to the ban on dynasties. "If these are removed by the Constituent Assembly, then the federalism that may be instituted will not work or will not deliver the aspirations we are all expecting."

Yusingco is a member of "Professors for Peace," a group of educators and law professionals who had earlier expressed "deep concerns" on the proposed manner of changing the over 30-year-old 1987 Constitution. 

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the draft federal charter created by his constitutional panel. Congress, which has yet to decide whether they would convene as a constituent assembly or call for a constituent convention, will still review this proposal.

The shift to federalism is one of Duterte's platforms when he ran for president in 2016, promising that this change in the political system would decentralize power from the country's capital and bring prosperity to the regions.