Palace urges Congress to ‘reconsider’ federal charter draft

By Jelly Musico

December 14, 2018, 5:41 pm

MANILA -- Malacañang on Friday called on the House of Representatives to reconsider its proposed federal charter after former Chief Justice Reynato Puno described it "falsified" federalism.

“Well, I hope Congress should listen to former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and open themselves for amendments, they should reconsider,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

“Otherwise, they might be the danger of people rejecting the proposed amendments to the Constitution, and then that would be a waste of people’s money,” he added.

Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading its version of a draft federal charter which Puno said has no provision against political dynasties and removes terms limits for lawmakers.

Puno, chairman of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution and prepared a federal charter draft, described Congress’ version as bogus federal form of government.

He said the 25-member ConCom agreed not to endorse the federal constitution draft approved in the House.

Panelo, meanwhile, said Congress should consider other versions of the proposed federal constitution submitted by different groups, including Con-Com.

“I understand there are many drafts submitted to Congress, because there are groups—they disregarded all? They should not disregard all,” Panelo said.

“I think one does not have a monopoly of ideas or amendments to the Constitution,” he added.

Panelo suggested that “if it’s feasible” all the drafts should be submitted to the people and “let the people decide which draft is good for them”.

He reiterated Duterte’s position not to support amendments to the Constitution that are against the interest of the people.

“Let me just repeat what the President said in one of the Cabinet meetings- - should Congress introduce amendments to the Constitution -- when they meet as a constituent assembly and it is against the interest of the people, he will campaign against the ratification of that proposed draft of the Constitution,” Panelo said.

Panelo, however, clarified that it would be premature to judge members of Congress on its proposed federal charter.

“It’s not yet final. They can always reconsider, they can always review. Mahaba pa naman ang panahon eh (There is enough time),” he said.

He is hoping Congress, including Senate, will be working together for the benefit of the Filipino people.

“After all that’s the very reason why they are there,” Panelo said. (PNA)