MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's silence on the federal debate after the House of Representatives passed its version of a draft charter is "deafening," a member of his consultative committee said Friday.
The Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15 approved by members of the chamber on third and final reading earlier this month "deleted all of the proposed reforms in the Bayanihan Draft Constitution" and those enshrined in the 1987 Charter, such as the anti-dynasty provision and the term limits, said Julio Teehankee, member of the group tasked to review the Constitution for a shift to federal government.
"The most important voice in this federal debate is the voice of the president and his silence is deafening. Perhaps he is biding his time because of the upcoming elections," Teehankee told ANC's Early Edition.
Teehankee, a professor of political science at the De La Salle University, said looking at the possible reconfiguration of political alliances in time for the 2019 midterm and 2022 presidential elections, "federalism might still be realized under this administration."
"But the question is what kind of federalism it’s going to be and when?"
The version of the House of Representatives confirms the suspicion of most sectors that the chamber "cannot rise above their partisan and personal interests and their political interests," he said.
"It’s just a hodgepodge of the PDP-Laban version and some parts of the Con-Com and they removed all the reforms…It’s not even full federalism, it’s half-baked federalism. It’s still unitary in form and they removed all the prerequisites, the necessary reforms to make federalism really work," he said.
Teehankee said as early as when they were consulting lawmakers for their version and the lawmakers them for their chamber's own version, legislators have been vocal about removing provisions on term limits and prohibition of political dynasties.
"This is the President’s draft. If you have any issues with it, you talk to the President," he recalled telling the lawmakers then.
He said the Con-Com did its part by submitting the draft to Duterte, "so now it’s in the hands of the President whether he will fight for the draft that we wrote for him," noting that according to Palace spokespersons, their draft is "still considered the official draft constitution of Malacañang."
Duterte's consultative committee submitted its proposal to the President in July this year. The shift to a federal government is a centerpiece measure being advocated by his government.