Reactions to House’s approval of federal charter on final reading

December 12, 2018 - 12:48 PM
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Congress at Duterte's Third SONA
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte greets some members of the 17th Congress upon his arrival at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives Complex in Constitution Hills, Quezon City to deliver his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, 2018. (Presidential photo/King Rodriguez)

The draft federal charter was approved by the Congress on its third and final reading less than a week since its second passage despite a majority of Filipinos’ disapproval of the shift to a federal system.

Resolution of Both Houses 15 was met with 224 affirmative votes, 22 objections and 3 abstentions.

Under the proposal, the country will have a presidential-bicameral-federal system that seeks to remove the term limits of legislators and prohibitions against political dynasties in the draft of the previously formed consultative committee.

The House’s version of the constitution also states that lawless violence shall become a factor for the imposition of martial law.

Furthermore, the House speaker would be considered the ex-officio chairperson on the Commission on Appointments. Under the current constitution, only the Senate President holds the privilege to confirm appointments made by the president.

The draft federal charter’s third passage was met with reactions online, with some Filipinos observing the unusually swift reading of the bill since it was approved less than three full months after its filing.

Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano stated that the country is not yet ready to shift towards a federal type of government and denounced the current administration pushing for it.

Former Consultative Committee spokesperson Ding Generoso strongly opposed the House-approved draft of the federal constitution.

“This is not a step forward. It’s many steps backward in reforming our political system and instituting real (and) meaningful system change,” he wrote.

Former Bayan party-list representative Neri Colmenares, a senatorial hopeful, referred to the draft as “the worst chacha (charter change) ever.” He listed all of the provisions that have since drawn criticism.

 

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo previously denied railroading the draft federal charter that was approved on its second reading and said “it was voted on” and had went through the legislative process.

“We sent it to them, it was voted on. It’s part of the democratic process,” she said.

Equally speedy second passage 

Last week, the Congress approved the second reading of the draft federal charter through a voice voting that followed a plenary debate session that lasted for only three days.

Its speedy passage was also denounced by some Filipinos, including Rep. Sarah Elago of Kabataan party-list.

She listed some of the proposed changes under the draft and noted that it is “pro-imperialist, pro-oligarch, self-serving (and) anti-people.”

Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT party-list previously shared that the three-day plenary debate sessions dedicated for the draft federal charter “disgracefully discharged (the House’s) function as a constituent assembly.”

“The intent is clearly to rubber stamp the approval of a new constitution that will further tighten the stranglehold of political dynasties, undermine human rights and civil liberties and sell out the national patrimony and economy,” he said.

The draft federal charter was first filed into Congress in September 2018.

Three months ago, House constitutional amendments panel chairperson Vicente Veloso said Arroyo ordered them to pass the draft federal charter “on time.” It was supposed to be ratified around February or March 2019.