Consultative Committee 'impeaching' Robredo via new constitution

MANILA, Philippines – If ratified by the people, the Consultative Committee's draft constitution would have the effect of impeaching Vice President Leni Robredo, said a political science professor during a Senate hearing on charter change.

Gene Pilapil, assistant professor of political science at the University of the Philippines, pointed out the consequences of the Con-Com's newly modified transitory provisions on Tuesday, July 17.

"This could only be described as a reverse power grab or a sort of impeachment-via-new-constitution, and is utterly contemptuous of the electoral, hence democratic, mandate bestowed on her (Robredo) by the 1987 Constitution," he told lawmakers and Con-Com members present.

Pilapil was referring to the provisions that call for the election of a Transitory President and Vice President once the new constitution is ratified.

This was a recent modification by the Con-Com made upon the request of Duterte because he claims he wants to resign upon the new charter's ratification.

The two transitory leaders would be given all the powers of the president and vice president and their election would cut short Duterte's and Robredo's term.

Pilapil said this is unfair to Robredo whose term could be cut short simply due to Duterte's whims.

"But even worse than Duterte’s, is the term of Vice President Leni Robredo, who is dragged into this stunt, and whose term will also be cut short by request of Duterte," said Pilapil.

The provisions also disenfranchise the 14 million Filipinos who voted for her, he said. They bar her from fulfilling her role as the President's successor upon his resignation.

Pilapil pointed out that Robredo has "no plan to abandon her mandate" and is "actually the constitutional successor of the 1987 Constitution if the president decides to resign."

'Grocery list'

The academic expressed indignation that the Con-Com did not question Duterte's recommendations, given its consequences.

"Mad as this stand of the president, especially on the VP, madder still is the Con-Com agreeing to this cavalier suggestion of constitutional strangulation of democratic mandates," he said.

Pilapil's statement was staunchly against the Con-Com's draft charter which he called a mere "grocery list" of institutions.

He particularly scoured the Con-Com for not laying out a more detailed transition plan and leaving this to the "all-powerful" Federal Transition Commission to be headed by the Transition President.

"No wonder the Consultative Committee finished its constitution two weeks ahead of President Duterte’s SONA: it passed this crucial, dirty, and most difficult job to someone else," said Pilapil.

Previously, Con-Com chairman Reynato Puno, when asked if the committee would limit or provide a check on the powers of the Transition Commission, said the powers given to it are similar to powers given by previous constitutions to previous transition commissions.

However, the previous constitutions did not set up a federal system of government which entails sweeping structural changes. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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