House to hear Palace panel on proposed Charter amendments

February 03, 2020
Eduardo Año

INTERIOR Secretary Eduardo Año will lead a panel created by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte in briefing congressmen on constitutional amendments the administration is proposing, a House leader said on Monday.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the panel chairman, said the briefing will be given this Tuesday morning by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reforms.

“We want to hear their proposals in detail so we can decide which of those we can include in our committee report for submission to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and to the plenary,” said Rodrigiez.

Rodriguez said his committee would schedule another meeting after Tuesday’s briefing to make a decision on its final report.

Año heads the task force, with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as its vice chairman. The Rodriguez panel invited Guevarra, but the justice secretary is sending Assistant Secretary George Otho ll instead. The task force is composed of nine agencies.

Other officials of the group who are attending the briefing are Secretary Adelino Sitoy of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin, Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David, and Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo of the Civil Service Commission.

Officers of the Constitutional Reform Movement led by Gary Olivas and Ramon Casiple will join task force members in the briefing.

Among the task force’s constitutional amendment proposals are the inclusion in the Charter of provisions against political dynasties and turncoats, election of senators by region, five-year term for members of the House of Representatives and local officials, creation of regional authorities, lifting of limitations on foreign investments, allocation of a larger share of national revenues for local government units, and state subsidy for political parties.

Rodriguez said most of the administration group’s proposed amendments jibe with those contained in its committee’s initial report.

Among these are the election of senators by region, term of office of five years for congressmen and local officials, and lifting of foreign equity restrictions to encourage more foreign investments, he said.

“In the case of the regional election of the Senate, the task force is proposing the creation of 17 regions with two senators each for a total of 34, while in our report we recommended nine regions with three senators each for a total of 27. But at least, there is consensus on the election of senators by region. In the present Senate, there is no representation from Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

As for the term of office, Rodriguez said the Año panel is recommending five years with one reelection, while his committee is for two reelections.