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House receives copy of draft federal charter

Congress must base its decision on what serves best the interest of future generations

Gulf News

Manila: A panel tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to revise the country’s 31-year-old statute has submitted the draft to the House of Representatives.

The 91-page draft charter, titled ‘Bayanihan Federalism: Power to the People, Power to the Regions’ was handed by Consultative Committee (ConCom) on Charter Change chairman and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno to House Speaker Pantaloon Alvarez on Wednesday.

One of Duterte’s campaign promises during the 2016 elections was to make changes to the constitution and make it more responsive to the new global realities as well as transition to a federal form of government in lieu of the current unitary type of administration.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas says the draft will not necessarily be adopted in total by the Congress. He said its purpose is primarily “recommendatory” in nature and serves as a framework for the Senate and House to work on in coming up with a federal charter that would mainly divide the country into several autonomous administrative regions.

“It’s only the Congress that can propose amendments to the Constitution. Precisely, they [ConCom] are called the advisory commission,” Fariñas, a constitutional expert said.

Past administrations too had attempted to revise the Constitution.

The Senate is expected to receive its own copy of the document.

Even with fewer than four years left under Duterte administration, the framers and Congress still have enough time for debate and adoption of the new charter and implementation of its provisions.

Based on reports, the ConCom proposal suggests to provide fiscal and administrative autonomy to the country’s current 18 regions, thus turning them to virtual federal states like that of the United States, Germany among others.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Congress, in deciding on the transition to federal, “must base its decision on what should serve best the interest of future generations of Filipinos.”

“The proposed draft charter is not about one person, or for those opposing and supporting it. Neither is it about us in this present generation,” he said.

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