MANILA The expert panel tasked to draft a new Constitution allowing a shift to federalism officially turned over on Monday its proposed Bayanihan (working together) Federal Constitution to President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
In a hand-over ceremony in MalacaAang, Duterte received the 91-page draft charter from the 22-member Consultative Committee (ConCom), chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno.
The draft Federal Constitution titled Bayanihan Federalism: Power to the People, Power to the Regions has 22 articles in total compared to the 1987 Constitution's 18 articles.
Duterte's ConCom unanimously approved the draft Federal Constitution last week in an executive session, over four months after the Committee convened.
In his speech, Puno said the design of Bayanihan Federalism installs a Federal Government strong enough to hold together the various federated regions.
He said it also establishes federated regions that are socially, economically and politically viable and sustainable.
We divided the powers of government guided by the Filipino spirit of bayanihan where both the federal government and the federated regions govern the people less in competition but more in cooperation with one another and aligned with the maxim: the welfare of the people is the supreme law, Puno said.
Under the draft Federal Constitution, there are 18 federated regions composed of 16 symmetrical regions existing regions plus Negrosanon Federated Region and two asymmetrical regions Bangsamoro and Cordillera.
Bangasamoro and Cordillera have different designs from other regions because of their identity-based demands, ConCom senior technical assistant and spokesperson Ding Generoso said.
Puno, meanwhile, listed five features of the Federal Constitution which may be of particular interest to the Presidenta ban on political dynasties and political turncoatism; a ban on monopolies and oligopolies that lessen competition; additional powers for the Ombudsman and Commission on Audit among others; the inclusion of socio-economic rights in the Bill of Rights; and the establishment of a permanent and indissoluble nation.
Following the ConCom's submission to the President, it has also released the official copy to the media and the public to allow them to freely debate and deliberate on every Article, every Section, every sentence, and every word in the draft Constitution.
Duterte is expected to endorse the ConCom's draft Federal Constitution to Congress, which has the mandate to propose revisions to the Constitution.
New transitional president
After receiving the draft Federal Constitution, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte himself has instructed the ConCom to elect a transitional President.
Duterte apparently changed his mind about his willingness to lead the Transition Committee as long as it is within the end of his term in 2022.
I instructed (the) Consultative Committee to elect a transitional President. I am willing to cut my term to be co-terminus with (the) start of transition period. Committee agreed. It's to remove all suspicions and I am tired. Ready to give it to somebody else, Roque said in a tweet, quoting Duterte.
Electing a transitional leader would enable a younger leader to takeover, he added, still quoting the President.
Earlier, the ConCom said Duterte will lead the 10-member Transition Commission on Federalism which is among the charter's transitory provisions.
Roque said Duterte would rather have a transitory President so that he could leave his post immediately and remove all suspicions of plans for a term extension.
The Transition Commission is a body that will formulate and adopt a transition plan for the orderly shift to the new system of government, as provided for in the new Constitution.
Meanwhile, the ConCom said it will review and revise the Transitory Provisions in accordance with the President's instructions.
The ConCom will meet tomorrow to discuss the President's instructions, Generoso said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency