The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) welcomes the decision of the House of Representatives to return to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments its version of the federal constitution for "perfecting amendments" and urges Congress to retain the political and electoral reforms provided in the Consultative Committee’s (Concom’s) draft federal constitution.
"In the process of undertaking perfecting amendments, we ask Congress to strengthen the federal character of the proposed charter and consider retaining the innovative justice and electoral features of the Concom ’s draft federal charter because these would strengthen our justice and electoral system in the country,” says DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya.
Malaya notes that in the House version, the establishment of the federated regions (or federal states as referred to the Committee Report) is open-ended and rests entirely on the discretion of Congress. "A true federal charter already creates the federal government and the federated regions and this process is not dependent on the approval of the Central Government," he says.
"To make the process of creating the federated regions (or federal states) entirely dependent on the Central Government goes against the very nature of a federal system," he adds.
In addition to maintaining the term limits and enacting a self-executing anti-political dynasty provision, the DILG also recommends the retention of the proposed provisions of the Federal Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions, the Federal Electoral Court, and the Federal Constitutional Courts.
In Concom’s draft, the Commission on Appointments, the Federal Supreme Court or the Federal Constitutional Court, and the President shall each appoint three justices of the nine-member Federal Supreme Court for a more balanced appointment system.
The Department also recommends the retention of the Ombudsman and the Philippine Competition Commission as Constitutional Commissions to cement public accountability and fair competition both at the national and regional levels.
The impeachment process must also be a joint task of Congress and the Judiciary wherein Congress becomes an investigatory body while the Judiciary becomes the judge.
“This will ensure a more professional and impartial system in resolving cases against impeachable officers,” says Malaya.
He likewise asks for the retention of the proposed Federal Electoral Court for the speedy disposition of election cases.
By “declogging” the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the regular courts and the Supreme Court of the numerous cases, the resolution of cases will be faster.
The proposed Federal Electoral Court will likewise relieve the Comelec of its quasi-judicial functions in order for the Commission to focus on the conduct and management of elections.
The Federal Electoral Court will now handle all cases relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of Members of the House of Representatives, Senators, and President and Vice-President, respectively.
Meanwhile, the proposed Federal Constitutional Court relieves the Supreme Court of constitutional cases and will contribute to an efficient justice system.
It will also serve an advisory body giving recommendations on laws enacted by Congress and orders made by the President to make sure that these laws and orders are constitutional and lawful.
“The main purpose of amending the constitution is to fix the inefficiencies and gaps of a defective system Filipinos have endured for a long time. So we ask Congress to consider Concom’s proposed reforms for a speedier and balanced justice and electoral system,” says Malaya.