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Federal Philippines: Highlights of the draft federal constitution

Con-Com ready to submit draft federal constitution to Duterte

The draft constitution rules out a term extension for President Rodrigo Duterte, creates 18 federated regions, and 3 high courts. Here are some highlights of the draft document.

MANILA, Philippines – The Consultative Committee (Con-Com) formed by President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Tuesday, July 3, a draft constitution they will submit to the Chief Executive.

This submission is a crucial step, as Duterte is expected to endorse the Con-Com's output to Congress, the body that will ratify a new constitution.

Congress is not bound to adopt the Con-Com's draft but if it bears Duterte's approval, the document should have some impact on Congress, composed mostly of the President's allies.

The document will be submitted to Duterte on or before July 9, giving him two weeks to review it before his State of the Nation Address on July 23.

So what's in the draft now up for Duterte's approval? Rappler compiled a quick list of highlights below.

System of government: federal-presidential

True to Duterte's advocacy, this draft constitution creates a federal system of government – meaning regions will be given more power to self-govern and only powers of nationwide bearing will be left to a central government. (READ: Consultative Committee delineates powers of federal gov't, regions)

The proposed federal constitution, however, retains the current presidential form of government such that Filipinos still get to directly vote for the president. There will be no prime minister elected by legislators. (READ: Will federalism address PH woes? Pros and cons of making the shift)

No term extension for Duterte, Robredo

One of the biggest fears surrounding charter change, a term that just means revising the constitution, is that it is being used by Duterte to stay longer in power. But in the Con-Com's draft, the terms of Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo will end on June 30, 2022, and the transition to the new federal constitution also takes effect on this day. This means that Duterte will be bound to the 1987 Constitution until the end of his term, a constitution that allows no reelection or term extension for the president.


18 autonomous federated regions with more powers

The heart of a federal constitution is it gives regions more power to govern themselves instead of leaving such powers to the often distant central government in Metro Manila.

The current 17 regions, plus a new Negrosanon region, will become federated regions that have the power over socioeconomic planning, land use, and financial administration and management, among others. The central government, called the federal government in the draft, will retain powers over national security and defense, international relations and diplomacy, customs and tariffs, federal crimes, and the justice system, among others. (READ: How Duterte's charter change committee proposes to fund regions)

36 senators, 400 district representatives

Instead of the current 24 senators, there will be 36 – two senators from each federated region. Instead of the current 297 members of the House of Representatives, there will be 400. Regions will be divided into districts, with each district electing one representative. Of the total number of representatives, 40% or 160 representatives will come from proportional party representation. Of this, half or 80 of the seats will be reserved for representatives of marginalized sectors.

Regulation on political dynasties

An elected official cannot be succeeded by a relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity. Persons related in this degree also cannot run in the same election cycle, unless one is running for a national office (president or vice president) and a local position. The ban covers children of officials and their spouses, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and their spouses, grandchildren and their spouses, spouses of officials, parents-in-law, brothers- and sisters-in-law and their spouses, and grandparents of spouses. It does not cover an official's uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

More explicitly stated rights in Bill of Rights

The draft's Bill of Rights explicitly mentions environmental rights of citizens and socioeconomic rights to education, health, and decent housing. This means citizens will have a constitutional basis to demand critical services from the government. In the current charter, these rights are not in the Bill of Rights but in the article on state policies.

3 high courts

In place of the Supreme Court, there are 3 high courts in the draft – Federal Supreme Court, Federal Constitutional Court, and Federal Administrative Court – with distinct areas of jurisdiction and functions.

The courts will have 9 justices each – one presiding justice and 8 associate justices. While the president still gets to appoint the presiding justices, the judiciary and Congress will be given the power to appoint 3 justices each, per court.

Tandem voting

The running mate of the winning president automatically becomes the vice president. The president is required to appoint the vice president to a Cabinet position.

Structure of regional governments

Regions will be led by a governor and deputy governor. Regional laws and budgets of the regional governments will be crafted by a regional legislative assembly composed of representatives from each province and highly-urbanized city. In the regional legislative assembly, 40% will be representatives from parties to be voted region-wide. The governor will be a member of the regional legislative assembly elected by his or her fellow representatives. His or her running mate will automatically be the deputy governor.

Federal Philippines: Highlights of the draft federal constitution Federal Philippines: Highlights of the draft federal constitution Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 2:03:00 AM Rating: 5

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