SENATORS’ doubts notwithstanding, the House of Representatives is on track to approve on third and final reading the Charter Change Bill before the Christmas session break.
Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said they will approve the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15 next week and will immediately send this to the Senate.
The RBH 15 contains changes in the 1987 Constitution including proposal to change the government system to federal form.
Principally authored by former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, RBH 15 proposes the revision of the Constitution to make it responsive to the exigencies of the times.
It further aims to spur regional economic development in the countryside and provide impetus to much needed socio-economic and political reforms.
RBH 15 mandates that the form and structure of government shall be that of a presidential-bicameral-federal system and include “sovereign rights” as part of the national territory.
It also proposes that State Principles and Policies ensure that relations between the Church and State shall be governed by benevolent neutrality.
The draft constitution further adopts a Bill of Rights that includes the natural right to protect oneself which shall always be respected by the State, as well as a new article mandating Filipino citizens to be loyal to the country and exercise their rights responsibly.
Moreover, the measure requires voters to be domiciled in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place where they propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election to be able to exercise the right of suffrage. Exempt from this requirement are qualified Filipinos abroad under the system for absentee voting or as may be provided by law.
It also outlines the development of a two-party system wherein the State shall subsidize political parties based on their electoral performance in the previous election under State Policy.
Further, RBH 15 proposes the adoption of a bicameral Legislature wherein the House shall be composed of no more than 300 members and the Senate shall be composed of 24 senators.
The Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government, except the appropriations for the Congress and the Judicial Department.
RBH 15 proposes that while the measure mandates that the President and Vice President maintain the same powers and functions as that of the 1987 Constitution, RBH 15 mandates that a vote for the President shall also be a vote for the Vice President and the President and Vice President must be from the same party.
Their term of service under the draft constitution is also limited to four years with one year for re-election.
In addition to the powers and functions provided in the 1987 Constitution, the President shall also nominate and appoint, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, the Ombudsman and Deputies Ombudsman and members of the Constitutional Commissions.
Under the Constitutional Commissions, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) shall be composed of a Chairperson and eight Commissioners; the power of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to investigate and cause prosecution of election-related crimes shall be vested in the Department of Justice; and the Commission on Human Rights shall become an independent Constitutional Commission composed of a Chairperson and four Commissioners.