House sets Charter change bill okay

December 09, 2018
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

THE House of Representatives is scheduled this Monday to approve on third and final reading a measure proposing amendments to the 1987 Constitution including lifting the term limits of legislators and local officials.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reiterated that Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15, or the draft federal charter which is among the priority measures of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), would be passed before Congress adjourns for the Christmas break starting Saturday.

“Because it passed on second reading, three days after the copy is circulated, we should be taking it up on third reading hopefully that would be Monday,” said Mrs. Arroyo who vehemently denied earlier that her leadership railroaded the second reading passage last Tuesday, stressing it was democratically debated.

“It was part of the democratic process, there was a debate, it was voted on,” said Mrs. Arroyo.

RBH No. 15 is pushing for a presidential-bicameral-federal system of government and empowers Congress to establish federal states by convening Congress into a constituent assembly (Con-Ass).

Asked about the absence of the anti-dynasty provision on the proposal, the Speaker said she had nothing to do with it.

“There was a debate no, so it was a, you ask the chairman [of the House committee on constitutional amendments, Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso]. I did not participate in the debate because as I said, my only contribution there is the mechanism for setting up the federal states, the others are contributions of the other congressmen, they should answer for themselves,” said Mrs. Arroyo on the RBH No. 15, which was already amended to return the Vice President in the line of succession to the presidency.

The House of Representatives supports Con-Ass, believing that convening Congress into an assembly and voting separately is necessary because it will shorten the time needed for Charter change (Cha-cha).

Earlier, Mrs. Arroyo admitted that the proposed shift to a federal form of government would not materialize during her term as Speaker.

The country’s president and vice president will be elected with each other to serve four-year terms, subject to one reelection, the proposal said.

For members of Congress, the proposal mandates that they should be holders of college degrees and will also serve four-year terms.

The measure states that the first election under the proposed Constitution will be held on the second Monday of May 2022.