Con-com tackles distribution of powers in a federal setup

MANILA An entire week would be allotted to deliberations on the distribution of powers among the three branches of the federal government, the Consultative Committee (Con-com) said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Con-com, which is tasked to review the 1987 Constitution, said during a caucus, members decided to convene the subcommittee on the structure of the federal government as a committee of the whole.

This is to give all members the chance to participate in all pre-vote deliberations on all matters involving the powers of the three branches of the national government under a federal setup.

We are now putting the details - the powers for each of the three brancheswhat will the powers of the president be, congress, the judiciary? Con-com member and former Senate President Aquilino Nene Pimentel Jr. said in a statement.

Results of the deliberations will be submitted for en banc vote on March 12.

Retain bicam

On Monday (March 5), the Con-com agreed to retain a bicameral legislature but decided that the composition, manner of election of members, powers, and their relation to each other are still up for further deliberation.

We agreed on a bicameral congress, but it is not yet final as the en banc will still have to vote on it, Subcommittee on the structure of the federal government chair and Supreme Court Justice Antonio Nachura said after the meeting.

The Con-com will take into account problems and issues raised under the current presidential-bicameral legislature setup to come up with alternatives and solutions in reviewing the powers of the three branches.

This comes with Pimentel's suggestion that part of the process of reviewing the constitution is to improve its strengths and address its weaknesses.

President's qualifications

On Tuesday (March 6), the Con-com agreed on provisions requiring the President and the Vice President be elected as a team from the same political party.

The Con-com tackled the powers of the President or the executive branch particularly the requirements/qualifications for the candidate for president and vice president - whether or not a college degree should be required.

The current provision only requires that the president shall be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age on the day of the election and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.

Some members, including Pimentel and Con-com member Eddie Alih proposed that candidates for president should have at least a college degree, the same proposal made on Monday for members of the legislature.

Pimentel and Alih also wanted a minimum level of education required for elective officials, including members of Congress and the President and Vice President, just as those holding appointive posts or employees of the government required to have academic degrees.

However, Con-com member and former representative Roan Libarios noted that some of the known leaders and accomplished individuals in political and business fields are school dropouts.

Con-com chairperson and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno urged the members to be guided by relevant data in deciding whether or not to impose academic requirements.

Puno cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showing that of the total household population of the country five years old or older, only 10 percent have finished college.

Source: Philippine News Agency