House draft charter sponsored in plenary

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Congress plenary hall

By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

THE HOUSE Committee on Constitutional Amendments on Monday sponsored at the plenary its version of a draft Constitution that lifts term limits and also the ban on political dynasties.

“We will be making the Constitution responsive to the exigencies of the times including the need to provide a long term solution to decades-long conflict in Mindanao and other regions, spark regional economic development in the countryside, and provide impetus to the much needed socioeconomic reforms,” Committee chair Vicente S. E. Veloso of the third district of Leyte said during his sponsorship speech, Monday.

The consideration of the resolution, however, was suspended for the lack of quorum.

The Committee earlier approved and recommended to the plenary the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 15, which carried the chamber’s federal system proposal.

The House draft charter removes term limits for elected members of both chambers of Congress. In the current system, congressmen have a maximum of three consecutive terms of three years each, and senators, a six-year term with up to one reelection.

The House version also removed the provision banning political dynasties, present in both the 1987 Constitution and the draft ConCom charter.

Arthur N. Aguilar, a member of the ConCom, said the absence of the provisions banning political dynasties could translate to a withdrawal of public support.

“The expectation of people and in fact, it’s a pre-condition among people to be open to federalism if there is a ban on political dynasties. That’s why in our draft we already made it a constitutional requirement, we didn’t make it a matter of law the way the 1987 Constitution did, so…in the absence of that, a lot of people will not support it,” Mr. Aguilar told BusinessWorld in a phone interview yesterday.

The draft constitution, according to Mr. Aguilar, proposed “essentially the same government as we have today, except that Congress has the power to spin-off federated states and pass an organic law. My understanding is that they will spin it off in the model of Bangsamoro.”

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, among the authors of the RBH 15, said this was a provision she proposed. “I merely put a….the only thing I added was a provision that instead of establishing the federal states, there’s a mechanism establishing the federal states. All the other provisions were already submitted by the ConCom and everyone else,” she said in a chance interview, Monday.

“That’s the only thing I added to make it my version,” the Speaker said.