THE chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments yesterday defended Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from critics about the draft federal Charter containing the proposal to lift lawmakers’ term limits.
Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, the panel chairman, said it is unfair for the critics to claim that the draft Charter being deliberated now at the plenary is “designed to address the political concerns of Speaker Arroyo” so that she can run again.
“This is not an (Speaker) Arroyo draft,” said Veloso, saying her only role during the committee deliberations is her proposals for Article XII on local government and establishment of federal states.
Veloso was referring to the draft Constitution that stemmed from resolution of both Houses of Congress No. 15 under committee report No. 88 by the Veloso panel.
Arroyo denied that she was behind the exclusion of term limits in the draft Charter, adding it is the people who will decide.
“Again that was not my provision,” Arroyo told reporters in an ambush interview.
The Veloso panel was behind the draft federal Constitution which seeks to remove Vice President Leni Robredo from the line of succession during the transition period to federalism because of the pending electoral protest filed against her by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Section 4, Article XVII (Transitory Provisions) of the draft Constitution, which was sponsored in the plenary last Monday night provides that upon ratification of the new Constitution, the incumbent President and Vice President “shall continue to exercise all the powers and functions of their offices until the election of the next President and Vice President.”
However, the same provision states that “in case a vacancy arises by reason of removal, resignation, permanent incapacity or death of the incumbent President, the incumbent Senate President shall act as President until a President shall have been chosen and qualified.”
This means that Speaker Gloria Arroyo is next in the line of succession after Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Section 2, Article XVII prohibits the term extension of both President Duterte and Robredo, respectively, beyond June 30, 2022. It also bars the President from running for the same position in the 2022 federal elections under the new Constitution.