LOOK: Congress receives Consultative Committee’s draft constitution

Mara Cepeda

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LOOK: Congress receives Consultative Committee’s draft constitution
(UPDATED) Consultative Committee chairman Reynato Puno personally hands a copy of the draft federal constitution to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The leadership of the House of Representatives and the Senate received copies of the federal constitution drafted by the Consultative Committee (Con-Com).

Con-Com chairman Reynato Puno personally handed the draft federal charter to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday, July 11, and to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday, July 12.

“Yesterday, we have finalized the transitory provision. We incorporated this to the instructions of the President so, again, we thank our Senate President for receiving us and for the assurance that this draft constitution will be properly considered as inputs when Congress hopefully convenes as a Constituent Assembly and consider revising our Constitution in order to effect the shift from a unitary government to a federal government,” Puno said in an interview with reporters at the Senate.

“Again, we acknowledge that the power to revise our Constitution through the Con-Ass lies with the Congress. We are here to assist the Congress in the task of revising our Constitution. Marami pong salamat,” he added.

The document proposes a federal-presidential form of government creating 18 federated regions, including federated regions of the Bangsamoro and Cordillera. It is the product of almost 5 months of work by the 22-member Con-Com. (READ: Highlights of Consultative Committee’s draft constitution)

The draft constitution currently states President Rodrigo Duterte would lead the proposed Federal Transition Commission, which would serve until June 30, 2022.

But Duterte said he does not want to wait that long before stepping down from office. Instead, the President said he prefers to relinquish his post as soon as the constitution is ratified, which Puno recommends should occur in May 2019.

Puno, however, said Duterte’s wish for a new transition leader complicates matters.

Duterte himself already received a copy of the draft charter on July 9. On the same day, Con-Com spokesperson Ding Generoso said Duterte would endorse the draft constitution to Congress.

Under the 1987 Constitution, Congress has the mandate to propose constitutional revisions. (READ: The problem with Con-Ass? Distrust of Congress)

This means the 17th Congress may opt to accept or reject the Con-Com’s draft charter. Lawmakers are also free to adopt certain provisions from the Con-Com’s version and introduce other amendments of their own.

The House already approved a joint resolution calling both chambers of Congress to form a Constituent Assembly to amend the charter. But the document remains pending at the committee level in the Senate. – with reports from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.