Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Home Cover ConCom finalizes proposal for Federal Constitution

ConCom finalizes proposal for Federal Constitution

 (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

The Consultative Committee (ConCom) formed by President Rodrigo Duterte last January has wrapped up its job.

On July 3, the panel has approved the final draft of their proposed Constitution for a Federal Republic of the Philippines. The vote came about four and a half months after the ConCom officially convened its first session on Feb. 19.

ConCom chair and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno

The ConCom is chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Included as members were Victor De La Serna, Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, Virgilio Castillo Bautista, Rodolfo Dia Robles Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Antonio Eduardo Nachura, Julio Cabral Teehankee, Bienvenido Reyes, Eddie Mapag-Alih, Edmund Soriano Tayao, Ali Pangalian Balindong, Laurence Wacnang, Roan Libarios, Reuben Rabe Canoy, Arthur Aguilar, Susan Ubalde-Ordinario, Antonio Binas Arellano and Randolph Parcasio.

According to statement released by the ConCom, the panel expects to send the document to the President on or before July 9. This will allow the President to include the issue in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.

After that, the document may be submitted to Congress for ratification. For that to happen, Congress will have to convene itself as a Constituent Assembly to formally decide the draft Constitution’s fate.

If the Constituent Assembly ratifies it, the draft charter will be put through a plebiscite for the voting public’s approval.

Since the ConCom has the President’s blessing, chances are high that the President’s allies in the Senate and the House of Representatives will ratify this proposed Constitution.

Ding Generoso of the ConCom Media Office told the Philippines Graphic that a copy of the final draft of the proposed Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines will soon be released to the public.

According to Generoso, they were still proofreading the final draft. Once this was completed, a public copy will be released.

He told the Graphic that this task was going to be a “bloody.”

“I will once I have completed the proofreading for any misplaced punctuation, double words, wrong prepositions, possible errors in grammar, wrong spelling, redundancies, etc. — and I am confident it will pass your and my editorial standards for accuracy,” he said.

“The guidance of CJ Puno is that we strive for 100-percent accuracy,” he added. “I am bound by that. And every correction I make even just a punctuation mark, I show him, explain to him and get his concurrence. That’s how careful, particular, and diligent we are. I go over line by line with a ruler, the old way we do proofreading. And we have spent sleepless nights to make sure that there is no mistake.”

According to the ConCom, the proposed federal Constitution will have the following highlights.

Foremost was the Preamble, which was designed to “build a permanent indissoluble nation” and establish a “Federal Republic where sovereignty resides in the people.”

The proposed charter will also establish the Federal Republic’s “clear and distinct sovereignty over territory and sovereign rights over maritime expanse.”

Also included in the highlights of the proposed charter were reforms to the political system to “establish a strong foundation for the Federal Republic.”

These reforms will include a prohibition on political dynasties up to the second degree, ban succession and holding of more than one position, prohibit party switching and strengthen political parties as public institutions.

One of the intended reforms was to establish a “Democracy Fund” to encourage citizens to contribute to their political parties and candidates and help small parties get financial support.

The proposed federal charter will also revise the composition of the House of Representatives.

The ConCom agreed that the 60% of the members of the House of Representatives should be elected by district while the remaining 40% elected “through a system of proportional party representation.

According to the ConCom, this would “guarantee representation of marginalized sectors (labor, peasants, urban poor, indigenous peoples, and fisherfolks) by reserving half o the proportional party representation to them for the first three election cycles while they transform into full-fledged political parties.”

The proposed charter will also institute a “People’s Initiative which will be a “direct exercise of legislative power by the people.

There will be additions to the Bill of Rights under the proposed federal charter. These will be known as “socioeconomic and environmental rights.

The ConCom said the proposed federal charter will establish a “Federal System unique to the Philippines” anchored on the following points, a strong foundation, a strong federal government, empowered and sustainable Federated Regions, and a permanent, indissoluble nation.

The last point, the ConCom emphasized, was included as a guarantee against an attempt by a Federated Region to stage a formal secession from the Federal Republic.

The Federal Republic will have 18 regions, 16 of which will be “symemetrical” and two will be “asymmetrical.”

The two “asymmetrical” regions will be the Cordilleras and Bangsamoro.

There’s now definite draft for the proposed Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines.

Yes. You read that right.

That name is in the proposed draft Constitution, which was finalized by the Consultative Committee last July 3.

This committee was formed by President Rodrigo Duterte last January, Federal Republic of the Philippines.

Looking at the draft proposal, the new initials will of our country could be the letters F, R and P.

That means I can use these in the future…

“FRP you, Philippines!”

“Never FRP with a Filipino!”

Those are just a couple of things that popped up in my head after reading one of the working copies that later formed the basis of the Consultative Committee’s final draft of their proposed Constitution.

The question then arises: What the FRP am I being flippant about a serious subject?

The answer is easy. The main reason is that even if the Consultative Committee has approved its final draft of their proposed Constitution, as of this writing, no copy of this draft has been publicly released.

This final draft will be submitted to the President, who will then decide whether or not to submit it to Congress. Under the Duterte administration’s plan, Congress will transform itself into a Constituent Assembly to officially draft a new Constitution for the country.

Essentially, it will still be up to the politicians in the House of Representatives and the Senate whether or not to adopt the Consultative Committee’s draft Constitution or come up with their very own version.

I hope they can act their act together when that moment comes. Why? Because those guys and gals in Congress can’t even settle how they’re going to vote in approving a new Constitution.

Those in the Senate insist on voting separately with the House of Representatives while those in the House staunchly believe that the senators vote jointly with the congressmen.

It’s a debate that’s never been settled whenever the issue of Congress forming itself as a Constituent Assembly is discussed.

And since both sides can’t even agree on whether to vote separately or jointly, it looks mighty iffy whether or not they can deal objectively with the proposed draft of the Consultative Committee or come up with their own.

That’s a long and separate story. Now let’s get to the meat of the matter.

What the FRPing thing should we Filipinos expect with the Consultative Committee’s proposed draft Constitution if there’s no public copy available to peruse?

One answer to that FRPing question could come from Facebook.

Someone posted a link to Google Drive claiming it was the final draft of the federal Constitution.

That link spread like wildfire. Folk on social media were discussing the document’s pros and cons.

Someone said it was the real thing because it was posted by a lawyer who had connections with the Consultative Committee.

Really?

For me, I called it my “hmmm” moment.

How can that document be the final draft of the Consultative Committee when the date on the document was June 27 and panel made its decision on on July 3?

Those dates were a tip off that something was FRPed up.

And there was only one thing a journalist should do. Go straight to the source. I don’t believe in the saying “If it’s posted on Facebook, it must be true!”.

I called up the Consultative Committee’s Media Office and spoke with Ding Generoso, the panel’s designated spokesperson.

I asked him if the link to the Google Drive document was the real deal or not?

He told me that he knew about the link and that it wasn’t the final draft that the Consultative Committee approved.

So what the FRPing thing was that link?

He explained that it was simply a copy of one of the working documents that the Consultative Committee had used prior to the approval of the final draft.

The date on the Google Drive document was the giveaway, he pointed out.

It can’t be the final document when it was dated June 27 and the approval was made on July 3.

I was FRPing right!

And what’s the present status of that Google Cloud link?

“Sorry, the file you have requested does not exist.”

For those guys and gals who jumped on the Facebook bandwagon and spread the link, it’s another firm lesson that not everything posted on social media is necessarily true.

FRP you, keyboard warriors!

 

 

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