Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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ConCom pushes for reformist federal charter

MANILA — The Consultative Committee (ConCom) said Congress must include political and electoral reforms, including the ban on political dynasties and term limits for all elected officials, in the new constitution because they are needed for federalism to succeed.

“Please stop this foolish effort of drafting another constitution, because it will only discredit the federalism agenda of President Duterte. The President wants real change but the House is pushing not only retention of the current system and worse, make the political and economic elite stronger,” ConCom member retired Commodore Rex Robles said during the federalism roadshow in Dagupan City.

“We cannot separate the reformist character of President Rodrigo Duterte’s federalism campaign. If we will change the constitution, we must insist on these political and economic reforms,” said Prof. Eddie Alih, another member of the 22-man ConCom.

“Even the President is willing to cut his own term of office if the country shifts to a federal form of government,” Alih added.

Last week, the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, headed by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, released a draft constitution filed by House Speaker Gloria-Arroyo and other lawmakers.

On Wednesday, the House returned the draft to the Committee for further perfecting of the proposal.

Alih said the ConCom laments the absence of the anti-political dynasty, anti-party switching and term limit provisions in Congress’ draft.

They urged the House of Representatives to consider ConCom’s draft Bayanihan Federal Constitution as it is the version President Duterte will endorse to the people.

“Removing the anti-political dynasty provision from the constitution deprives the Filipino people of their right to run for public office,” lawyer Susan Ubalde-Ordinario of ConCom said.

Ordinario said it would be undemocratic to allow political families to dominate government.

In Congress’ draft, while an elected official’s term lasts four years, he would also be allowed to keep running for office with no restrictions. These two provisions would pave the way for the Philippines to be shackled under a long-term dictatorship and oligarchy, Robles said.

Congress also included in the Bill of Rights a dangerous provision that would allow any person to carry around guns and weapons under the guise of “protecting themselves,” Ordinario said.

She said a “right to protect oneself” provision in the Bill of Rights would allow individuals guilty of violence and even murder to escape the justice system as well as promote the proliferation of firearms in every household.

“This public confusion on federalism must be settled with a firm, resolute stance that we prefer political and economic reforms over preserving the political and economic elite’s hold on power and the national wealth,” Alih said. (DILG PR)

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