THERE will be no Senate nor party-list system under a federal government President Rodrigo Duterte is envisioning for the Philippines, the Chief Executive said Friday night as he shot down calls for him to extend his term.
In his exclusive interview with Mindanews, Duterte instead wanted a unicameral legislature with a “very limited” number of representatives, composed of around 50—doing away with the bicameral legislature proposed by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.
“Maybe if it’s provinces, [only a handful]” because it’s going to be expensive. “Very limited only. Fifty or whatever provinces, that’s the national body,” he said.
Duterte stressed there would be no repeat of the party-list system, saying it had been ineffective in representing the marginalized.
“Look at the party-list members. Are they not communists? What are they doing with the money there. They’re funding demonstrations,” the President said, citing as example the demonstration outside the Batasang Pambansa during his second State of the Nation Address on July 24 last year.
Duterte had earlier admitted some Filipinos were not yet ready for a federal type of government, but asserted it would be the best solution to problems plaguing the country under a centralized system.
In pushing for a unicameral legislature, Duterte apparently leaned towards the suggestion of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who serves as secretary-general of the administration party, that a unicameral legislature was a better option to speed up the country’s lawmaking process.
Under a draft constitution by the ruling party PDP-Laban, there will be a bicameral legislature or two lawmaking bodies—the Federal Assembly and the Senate.
Under this proposal, however, the Senate cannot initiate laws but only concur or reject bills that are created by the Federal Assembly.
Under the current setup, both the Senate and the House of Representatives can file bills which have to be agreed upon by the two chambers before they can be signed or vetoed by the President.
Duterte also shot down calls to transfer the seat of government from Manila to Visayas, and said he would soon decide on the possible date for a plebiscite—whether by this year or 2019.
The President, however, appeared cold to the possibility of banning political dynasties under a shift to federalism, saying “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Despite his continued efforts in pitching the idea, Duterte earlier said a shift to a federal form of government did not seem to “ring a bell” for most Filipinos.
But he insisted the move was the “right formula” to solve the problem in Mindanao, which he said stemmed from historical injustice.