SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed optimism that the proposed Charter change will be passed in the 17th Congress.
However, if this Congress fails to pass the Cha-cha measure, Arroyo said she remains confident that the next Congress will continue pushing for it.
The proposed Resolution of Both Houses No.15 calls for the shift to federal government, which is one of the campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Congress has only two weeks left before the Christmas break. The lawmakers will return on the 3rd week of January but the problem of quorum might persist due to the looming campaign season.
“Well, it’s undergoing interpellation. It’s the last of President Duterte’s SONA agenda. Everything else has already passed. So, I guess, we’ll be concentrating on that next week,” Arroyo said.
“Of course, we know that there will still be many steps. But the thing is, we will bring it as far as we can bring it in the hope that the next Congress can continue the work,” she added.
Principally authored by Arroyo, the proposal is now in the plenary for debates.
The Resolution of Both Houses No. 15 was contained in the House committee report 881, which the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments submitted in the plenary without amendments.
According to the draft, the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution “already served, if not outlived, their purpose,” therefore there is already justification for amendments and revisions.
The resolution states that both Houses of Congress are mandated to propose amendments to, or revision of, the Constitution, in order to make the fundamental law of the land responsive to the needs and exigencies of the times.
The solons also said that many provisions of the 1987 Constitution have already served, if not outlived, their purpose.
“Hence, the sustained clamor over the years for amendments to or revision of the Constitution finds jurisdiction in the need to provide, among other much needed socio-economic and political reforms, a long-term solution to the decades-old conflict in Mindanao and regional economic development in the countryside,” the resolution added.
Arroyo’s proposal, filed on September 19, is different from the draft Constitution submitted by the 22-member Consultative Committee formed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Under the draft Constitution, the president and vice president should belong to one party and will be elected together. They will serve a 4-year term and can be qualified for reelection.
Members of the legislative department (Senate and House) will have 4-year terms and can be re-elected.
It prohibits Congress from increasing budget appropriations recommended by the President except for the Senate, House of Representatives, and the judicial department.
The draft federal charter will also retain a bicameral legislative department where the House of Representatives will be composed of not more than 300 members, and the Senate composed of 24 senators.
A total of 80 percent of the House members will be composed of lawmakers from legislative districts, while 20 percent will be party-list lawmakers.
Meanwhile, members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts will be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council, which will be created in lieu of the Judicial and Bar Council.
Members of the Supreme Court will serve for a term of 10 years or until they reach the age of 70.
Under federalism, the federal states may be created upon petition of any contiguous, compact and adjacent provinces, highly-urbanized and component cities, and cities and municipalities in metropolitan areas.
Local governments and federal states will have the power to create their own sources of revenue and impose taxes, fees and charges.
On the other hand, the national government will provide local governments with their just share in national taxes as determined by law.
All branches of the government will continue to function in a transitory capacity until all successors are elected.
The first election under the proposed charter will be held on the second Monday of May 2022.
Extension of terms for the incumbents like Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo is not prohibited in the draft Constitution.
And since Duterte will serve for six years, he is not allowed to run in the 2022 presidential elections.