MANILA - A member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s consultative committee is pushing for the creation of a body that will settle the constitutionality of any proposed legislation before it is passed into law.
The proposed 25-man Constitutional Council will avoid situations where the Supreme Court ends up striking down measures legislated by Congress, said Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law.
Aquino acknowledged concerns over a chamber of “unelected” justices rejecting a law passed by “elected representatives of the people” over issues of constitutionality.
“One answer to that is to place within the legislature itself a body that previews—does not review, but previews—legislation prior to enactment,” he told ABS-CBN News.
Based on his proposal, the Constitutional Council will be composed of former presidents, chief justices, Senate presidents, and House speakers.
The Federal Congress will vote on the rest of the members based on nominations by the incumbent president.
No sitting member of parliament will be allowed to join the council, which will be “integral” to the Federal Congress, Aquino said.
The Constitutional Council will convene when the constitutionality of a bill is questioned why the president, House speaker, or the president of the House of Councilors.
The council can also look into the constitutionality of pending legislation if raised by at least 100 members of the House of Representatives or at least 30 of their counterparts from the House of Councilors.
Aquino suggested a Council of States, roughly a replacement of the present Senate, to handle “that part of the legislative agenda dealing with states or regions.”
The consultative committee has yet to determine how many states or regions will be created under a Federal Philippines, and from which a specific number of senators would be elected based on some proposals.
“The moment the Constitutional Council has ruled on it and declared (a bill) unconstitutional, its constitutionality can no longer be assailed,” Aquino said.
During Wednesday’s session, he said former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who chairs the committee, asked how the proposal would affect citizens aggrieved by a provision of law
“As long as the Constitutional Council has not ruled on (a bill) yet, any citizen can attack its provisions on the basis of personal injury to him,” Aquino said.