SEN. Panfilo Lacson on Saturday said the Philippines was not politically mature enough to adopt a single-chamber parliament, while Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th warned against “warlordism” if the country shifts to a federal system of government.
Lacson and Trillanes, who belong to opposite sides in the Senate, went on separate radio interviews amid the snowballing moves to shift to federal form of government through Charter change.
Lacson is set to file this week a resolution calling for the Senate to convene itself as a Constituent Assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution.
He has vowed not to support a joint assembly of the Senate and the House, saying joint voting on constitutional amendments could mean the death of the Philippine Senate and the adoption of a unicameral legislature.
“In my own view, it seems that we are not mature enough for a unicameral parliamentary. If we shift to unicameral parliamentary and the power is with the prime minister, it might lead to what we call patronage politics,” Lacson said.
“It could be that one or two big businessmen might control the parliament because the prime minister is elected by a majority vote of the members of the Parliament,” he said.
Trillanes is opposed to federalism. “It is not ideal for us because it will only promote political warlordism.”
He added that under the federal system of government, political clans or warlords would be able to “widen their turf and will have the power to impose tax in their localities.”
“If we shift to federal form, it is not only the national government that will impose tax. The regional [government]can do it also,” the opposition senator said.
“Who will complain? No one. Because you can get killed [by the warlord],” Trillanes added.
No check and balance?
Lacson said he was worried that a new constitution would diminish “check and balance” among the three
branches of government: the executive, legislative and judiciary.
“I agree that legislation will be expedited because there is only one [legislative]house. But I would rather have check and balance, although admittedly [a bicameral legislature]is a bit slower [in passing laws],” Lacson said.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd is also set to file this week a resolution convening both houses of Congress into a Constituent Assembly to revise the Charter.
He said Charter change and the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law would be among the top priorities of the Senate, which is set to resume sessions on January 15 after a month-long holiday break.