MANILA - Former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. on Tuesday made a strong pitch for his proposed federal model for the Philippines, saying this would ensure that there would be senators coming from the Bangsamoro.
"This time when we adopt the federal state, sigurado meron nang senatorial representation ang Bangsamoro (there will be sure senatorial representation for the Bangsamoro)," he said during the sub-committee deliberations on the proposed autonomous Muslim region in the south.
Addressing the Bangsamoro issue is a priority of the consultative committee created by President Rodrigo Duterte to review the constitution.
"Even in our dialogue with him, the only thing he emphasized is the need to focus our attention to the problem in Mindanao as among the key areas that should be given priority," former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who chairs the committee, told reporters Monday.
Pimentel, a senior member of the consultative committee on charter change, noted the insufficient number of senators voted from Mindanao over the years.
At present, only 3 out of the 24 senators are from Mindanao: Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Manny Pacquiao, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Senate President Pimentel’s model increases the number of senators to 87 with each of the 13 proposed regions picking 6. Nine of the senators will represent Filipinos overseas.
In his presentation, Pimentel argued the existing number of senators was based on a Philippine population of around 20 million.
"Now, we are roughly 104 million," he said. "The increase in the number of senators (and the members of the House) may be justified by the rise in our population."
Pimentel’s proposed bicameral federal Congress includes a House of Representatives whose members would be elected by legislative district.