'Revolutionary government' feared in shift to federalism

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2018 05:55 PM

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MANILA - The proposed transition commission under the draft federal charter of President Rodrigo Duterte's consultative committee may pave way for a "revolutionary government," a constitutional law professor fears.

Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said the draft federal charter proposes a Federal Transition Commission supposedly headed by the President who will wield almost all powers of the government as the country begins the shift to a federal form of government.

"Pagsasamahin po lahat ng kapangyarihan ng gobyerno—executive, legislative, judicial—sa isang tao o isang grupo na headed by the President. Para pong revolutionary government tayo sa loob ng tatlong taon," Hilbay told DZMM Sunday.

(All powers of the government—executive, legislative, judicial—will be concentrated in one person or in a group headed by the President. This is like a revolutionary government for three years.)

"Kaya niyang (President) i-reorganize lahat ng mga sangay ng gobyerno. Kaya niyang magpalit ng lahat ng public officials—mga gobernador, mga justices ng Supreme Court—puwede niya 'yang tanggalin in the course of reorganization," he added.

(The President will have the power to reorganize all branches of the government, to remove all public officials, such as governors and justices of the Supreme Court, in the course of reorganization.)

President Duterte had already said he does not want to be the head of the transitory body. But Hilbay said no matter who will be designated to lead the transition commission, he or she will still be wielding too much power.

"Kahit sino po 'yang taong 'yan. Hindi kailangan si Presidente Duterte. 'Pag binigyan mo ng lahat ng kapanyarihan ng gobyerno, na tanggalin 'yung mga tao na di niya, i-reorganize lahat, medyo nakakatakot 'yan," the lawyer said.

(It does not matter if it's not President Duterte heading the transition commission. If you give all powers of the government to one person, to remove people he does not like from their positions, that is scary.)

The President will head the Federal Transition Commission and will appoint 10 members based on the recommendation of a multi-sectoral search committee, according to Article 22 of the constitutional panel's proposed charter. 

The proposed transition commission will be tasked to formulate and execute a transition plan and "promulgate the necessary rules, regulations, orders, decrees, proclamations, and other issuances, do all acts to implement" it. 

It will also have the power to "organize, reorganize, and fully establish the Federal Government and the governments of the Federated Regions, in accordance with the Constitution" and to "exercise all powers necessary and proper to ensure a smooth, speedy, and successful transition."

The proposed draft charter has already been submitted to the President who will then endorse it to Congress, the branch of government allowed by the Constitution to approve amendments in the 1987 Constitution.

The shift to federalism was a campaign promise by Duterte during the 2016 polls, his solution to address poverty in the regions.