The differences between Arroyo and Con-Com federalism charters

October 9, 2018 - 2:54 PM
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House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 21 other lower house members are spearheading another federalism initiative in Congress (Philstar.com/AJ Bolando)

The draft federal charter submitted by House Speaker Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has veered away from some of the key provisions in the original version submitted by the Consultative Committee.

The House committee on constitutional amendments recently approved and recommended the adoption of Resolution of Both Houses No. 15, which proposed revisions to the current 1987 Constitution.

The said draft has been reportedly endorsed to the plenary.

The new version of the federal charter places the transition period from the time of the adoption of the charter to the second Monday of May 2022.

It proposes the terms of the president and vice-president to be shortened to four years, but reelection for one more term has been allowed.

It contains provisions barring the incumbent president and vice-president from running again, following the end of their terms on June 30, 2022.

Key changes from Con-Com version

The version prepared by Arroyo and 21 other members of the lower house features a presidential-federal-bicameral congress whose Senate will be voted by the nation at large.

The earlier version prepared by the Consultative Committee featured a Senate that would be elected by their constituent regions.

Among the other provisions introduced by the Arroyo draft is Article XVII on the transitory provisions during the federal shift which proposes that the Senate President will sit as acting president in the event the incumbent chief executive is unable to sit in office, until a new President has been selected.

In the Senate President’s absence, the Speaker of the House of Representatives will assume the said duties.

The introduction of the provision effectively removes the vice-president from the line of succession during the transition period.

The Arroyo version has removed the term limits for senators and representatives and each term has been extended to four years.

Arroyo however said that the decision to remove the term limits for legislators was a “collegial decision” made in consultation with colleagues in the lower house.

She clarified that the only provision she added was the provision giving Congress the power to establish the federal states.

Among the other key features of the original Con-Com version prepared in July 2018 were the introduction of a regional director and deputy regional director selected by regional legislative assemblies as the leaders of the 18 federated regions.

It also introduced safeguards against political turncoatism and political dynasties, which the Arroyo version has been criticized for leaving out.

Some have also questioned the introduction of the “Bill of Duties” in Arroyo’s version.

San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Ranhilio Aquino, a member of the Consultative Committee, in a series of tweets related having read the lower house version and questioned the “federal states” it introduced. He also underscored its difference from the federated regions the Consultative Committee proposed.

The lower house version however has likewise decreed that a vote for a presidential candidate will be a vote for his vice-presidential candidate, a policy that was first introduced in the Con-Com version.

The Consultative Committee, a body of policy makers, former legislators, legal experts and political scientists handpicked by the president, submitted a different version of the federal charter in July 2018 days before President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address.

The version however has yet to be acted on.