Retain key ConCom proposals in draft charter, House urged

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2018 10:08 PM

MANILA - Two officials urged the House of Representatives to retain important provisions that the Palace-backed consultative committee proposed. 

Department of Interior and Local Government spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya said the ConCom would appreciate it if the House retains the provisions imposing term limits on elective officials and banning political dynasties.

ConCom member, lawyer Randolph Parcasio, said lawmakers should heed the demand of their constituents to finally put an end to the dominance of political dynasties.

“We are going around the country and conducting consultations and there is overwhelming support, based on the consultations, to once and for all settle the issue on political dynasty,” Parcasio said in a Palace press briefing.

“And so, therefore, I would like to appeal to our Congressmen to take heed of this demand for political reforms. Otherwise, we will have a Constitution that shall perpetuate this unjust, you know, feudal system whereby a few families will dominate the political scene.”

The lower chamber, led by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, recently endorsed to the chamber’s plenary a draft constitution that seeks to pave the way for the creation of a federal government.

The Arroyo draft, however, did not include the line prohibiting political dynasties. It also removed term limits for lawmakers, a move branded by critics as self-serving. 

Also earning the ire of critics was the removal of Vice President Leni Robredo from the line of succession to the presidency during the transition to federalism.

The House has since restored Robredo to the line of succession and returned the draft federal constitution to the committee on constitutional amendments.

Malaya also urged the House to “strengthen the federal character of the proposed federal charter,” as he noted that the creation of federal regions in House version of the draft charter seemed “open-ended and is dependent on the discretion of Congress.”

“A true federal constitution already creates the federal government and the federated regions; and this process is not dependent on the approval of the central government,” Malaya said.

“It is our opinion that to make the process of creating the federated regions or federal states entirely dependent on the central government goes against the very nature of a federal system.”

He added, the House must consider retaining the “innovative” justice and electoral features of the ConCom’s draft, “because these would strengthen our justice and electoral system in the country.”

Another ConCom provision Malaya wants retained include the amendment to the impeachment process, wherein Congress becomes the investigative body while the judiciary becomes the judge.

“It is our opinion that this would ensure a more professional and impartial system in resolving cases against impeachable officers,” he said.

He also wants to retain the proposal creating the federal electoral court to ensure “speedy disposition of [election-related] cases.”

This provision will declog the Commission on Elections, the regular courts and the Supreme Court of numerous cases, Malaya said. This will replace the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, and will relieve the Comelec of its quasi-judicial functions.

Malaya also sought the retention of the provision creating the federal constitutional court “because it relieves the Supreme Court of constitutional cases and will contribute to an efficient justice system.”

“The federal constitutional court will also serve as an advisory body, giving recommendations on laws enacted by Congress and orders made by the President to make sure that these laws and orders are constitutional or lawful,” Malaya said.

Many senators, however, believe time is running out for charter change because of the upcoming mid-term elections.