THE House constitutional amendments panel has endorsed for plenary debates the draft constitution filed by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and 21 other lawmakers, which seeks to shift to a federal system of government and lift term limits.
Committee Report 881, dated October 2, approved “without amendment” and referred to the plenary for consideration on second reading, Resolution of Both Houses 15, which proposes to overhaul the 1987 Constitution.
The resolution, filed on September 19, is different from the draft federal charter of the 22-member Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked by Malacañang to propose amendments to the Constitution.
Arroyo’s proposal retains the presidential form of government and gives Congress the power to create federal states.
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives will have no term limits, with each term lasting for four years.
Members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts will be appointed from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council.
The president and vice president will serve four-year terms, with one re-reelection. Their powers and functions are the same as that of the 1987 Constitution.
However, both must be from the same political party and must be elected as a team, similar to the US system.
In a chance interview, Arroyo said she proposed the inclusion of a mechanism to establish federal states.
“All the other provisions were submitted by ConCom. That’s the only thing I added to make it my version,” she told reporters.
In August, Arroyo stopped deliberations on proposals to amend the Constitution, saying the Senate and the House as a constituent assembly should tackle and vote on the measure separately.
An opposition lawmaker called the timing of the filing of the measure “dubious” and “dangerous.”
“The timing of its filing last September as well as its precipitate passing at the committee level last week is very dubious and was done when we were neck deep in the 2019 budget deliberations,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said.
“Worse, this Cha-cha also lifts the term limits for congressmen and senators. So [Arroyo] in effect can still run for Congress,” he added.
Other lawmakers lauded the removal of term limits.
“There will be no political dynasty anymore,” House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez told reporters. “I would go for imposing a limit on the members of the family who will run, however.”
“We can see legislators who are really specialized in the field of legislation. If we were to compare this with companies, experience on the job has its premium,” Muntinlupa Rep. Rufino Biazon added.