MANILA A member of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to draft a federal Constitution said Friday President Rodrigo Duterte has legal basis to propose the shift in the form of government from unitary to federalism.
Lawyer Rodolfo Robles made this clarification after former senator Francisco Tatad wrote in his newspaper column last Sept. 17 that Duterte has no legal basis to push for a federal system of government.
Anybody can propose but the proposal must go through a process. That is based on a freedom of speech. So there is legal basis, Robles said in a Palace press briefing on federalism.
Robles, who was also member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, said ConCom is just a committee created by Duterte to prepare a draft of the federal Constitution, which the President will submit to Congress, the body that will ratify a new Charter.
When you propose, you are proposing to the people. The committee is to study and see what can be proposed to the people for their approval or disapproval, Robles said.
Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya, said the Constitution does not prohibit the President from proposing amendments to the Constitution.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it prohibit the President himself from proposing amendments to the Constitution, Malaya said.
In fact, that is (how) our system of government works -- the President proposes or the Executive proposes; the Legislature legislates. And if there are questions asked to constitutionality, the Judiciary is the one that disposes it, he added.
Malaya said Duterte has received a mandate in the 2016 elections to push for the federal system of government.
Even before he ran for president, the federal system was already part of his campaign platform, which eventually led to his election to the presidency, Malaya said.
Therefore, we disagree with the contention of Francisco Tatad that the President's push for a federal system has no legal basis. In fact, it has legal basis, because it is part of the fundamental workings of our government, he noted.
ConCom member and former Senate president Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. clarified that the panel is not dividing the Philippines into federal states.
We are only creating federal states in the Republic of the Philippines and pursuant to the recommendation of the Constitutional Commission, Pimentel, one of the main advocates of federalism, said.
The ConCom has proposed 18 federal states or regions that will be given equal opportunities to design their respective development plans without relying too much on the central government.
So, in effect, the power for the development will now be shared with the federal states' concern and not only dependent on the wishes of the central government, which is more or less typified by the President, because he is the head of the executive department. He executes what policies are adopted by central government agencies relating to development, Pimentel said.
He said even concerns on the possible rise of political warlordism can be prevented if Congress adopts ConCom's provision on political dynasty.
He said political warlordism should be prohibited and spelled out not only up to the first or second civil degree but up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity and affinity.
Under ConCom's proposed Federal Constitution, Pimentel said the power of the President will also be reduced in terms of appointing people.
But, the matter of overseeing the performance of this people still remains with the President, because he is the executive under that principle of three divisions of power, executive, legislative and judiciary, he said.
Robles said federalism simply means division of power between the federal government and regional governments.
Actually, it's very simple � division of power and allocation of money. Give it to the experts, Robles said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency