MANILA—A member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s consultative group is pushing for a constitutional convention, saying the proposed federal constitution drafted by congressmen showed they “cannot rise above their own partisan and political interests.”
Political science professor Julio Teehankee joined several other consultative committee members in condemning the draft, which removed a ban on political dynasties but lifted term limits.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the group warned that shifting to federalism without an anti-political dynasty provision “is potentially a dangerous, if not lethal, mix.”
Teehankee urged Duterte to consider a “hybrid” constitutional convention, where a quarter of the members would be experts appointed by the president.
Duterte initially wanted a constitutional convention, but was convinced that electing delegates nationwide would be more expensive than just allowing Congress to draft a new charter as a constituent assembly.
The House of Representatives passed its proposed federal constitution on second reading earlier this week, even without any counterpart version in the Senate.
The proposed Resolution of Both House No. 15 dropped most of the provisions drafted by Duterte’s consultative body, including a self-executing provision against political dynasties.
“It clearly shows—and it confirms the general fear of some sectors—that the members of the House cannot rise above their own partisan and political interests,” Teehankee told ABS-CBN News on Friday.
“Happy days are here again for members of political dynasties.”
The committee headed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno spent six months drafting a federal constitution as instructed by the president.
Teehankee was in charge of the sub-committee that introduced political and electoral reforms, including strengthening the political party system and banning turncoatism.
The 1987 constitution bans political dynasties as a state policy, but Congress has never come close to passing a law to define and “enable” them.
Consultative committee member Ranhilio Aquino, a Catholic priest and academic, said he would not support the House version.
“For me, the very minimum is federalism with an anti-political dynasty provision. If they cannot even go that far, better not to have federalism,” he told ABS-CBN News.
In the statement, several committee members expressed “very serious reservations” over the House draft.
They criticized the provision allowing areas to federalize through a petition to Congress, calling it “elective” federalism.
Such a set-up, they warned, would give rise to a situation where some provinces would operate under a unitary system, while others under a federal government.
“If it is already confusing to have a federal republic, how much more confusing it would be to have one republic of the Philippines with two parallel systems that’s working?” Aquino said.
Teehankee said the House output should serve as a “wake-up call for all genuine federalism advocates,” warning they might “end up with the federalism that we do not desire and a federalism that we do not deserve.”