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Hybrid Charter lacks basis, says House deputy

Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro on Sunday slammed Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s proposed hybrid constitutional body to break the deadlock in amending the Constitution.

He said Sotto’s proposal was “baseless.”

“You know, I have lost track of what I learned at the college of law [with what he said], Castro told dzBB radio. 

“It seems my knowledge [about the law] has mixed up. With due respect, what the Senate President had said did not have any basis.”

Meanwhile, as President Rodrigo Duterte’s expert panel comes closer to finishing its draft Federal Constitution, on Saturday night he reiterated his commitment to step down once federalism is in place.

“We’re just trying to perfect everything, and if you want a new leader during the transition you can provide it in the law itself, and I would be happy to step down,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City before Muslim leaders.

“The time for federalism has come to our country. We have to move away from the style of unitary government.”

Castro said he was not against Charter-change.

“But the proposal of Senate President Sotto does not have any basis. First, if you look at the Constitution, I am referring to the 1987 Constitution, you can only see two modes of how to revise or amend the Constitution,” Castro said.

“That is when both the Senate and House of Representatives exercise their constitutional power by acting as a constituent assembly. The second one is by a constitutional convention.”

Earlier, Sotto said to break a deadlock in the voting on the proposed amendments to the Constitution, a hybrid constitutional body composed of 12 senators, 12 members of the House of Representatives, 12 nominees by Duterte and 12 nominees from the civil society was needed. 

Congress wanted to convene as a constituent assembly and vote jointly with the Senate on the proposed amendments. 

But the Senate opted to vote separately because the 24-member chamber could easily be outvoted by Congress’ 292 members.

“The Senate President’s proposal has no legal basis. First and foremost, under what authority could the President appoint the 12 members [for each representation]?” Castro said.

“Secondly, there would be 12 members or [private] individuals. I don’t see any provision in the Constitution that allows the President to do so.” 

Castro raised concern that should Congress rush the holding of the plebiscite by early 2019, the proposed constitutional amendments could be half-baked.

He said the plebiscite for the proposed shift to federalism must not be held simultaneously with the May 2019 midterm elections.

“If we are rushing things just to save money, the [quality of the] proposed amendments could suffer due to time constraint,” Castro said.

He suggested that a plebiscite for the shift to federalism be held before May 2022, saying such could lead to a possible no-election scenario in 2022 to give way to the transition period of the new government under a  new Constitution. With PNA

Topics: Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro , Senate President Vicente Sotto III , President Rodrigo Duterte

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