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Davide says ‘no’ to Charter change

“There may be no more need for the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider any further Charter change, especially on the shift to federalism.   The Supreme Court en banc had effectively delivered a mortal blow—a coup de grace—on federalism by demolishing or striking down the principal reason given by its proponents for its adoption.”

So said former Chief Justice Hilario Davide during the July 17 Senate hearing on charter change. He said:

“What is the principal reason? Removing Imperial Manila and recognizing the right of the LGUs to a genuine share in national funds and resources. The Court ruled that the 40 percent IRA for the LGUs shall be based on all ‘national taxes,’ not only on ‘internal revenue taxes.’ Thanks to the Supreme Court.”

According to Davide, the LGUs can now collect their shares in all the national taxes from 1992, upon the effectivity of the Local Government Code. Under this decision the amount owed by the national government to the LGUs effective 1992 until the present would reach P1.5 trillion.   Concludes Davide: “The Cha-Cha train can now permanently stop.”

Davide delivered a stinging criticism of the draft constitution   produced by the 25-person Consultative Committee of President Duterte.

“The Charter change and federalism proposed in the CCCOM would not bring (to the people) the manna from heaven, but tyranny, injustice, corruption, poverty and penury,” Davide said.

He added:

“What the Consultative Committee produced is not just a Federal Republic of the Philippines through the division, breaking up or splitting of the one-single-nation, the Philippines, into 18 federated regions, composed of the 16 administrative regions and the autonomous regions and the Cordillera Autonomous Region, with provisions that would strictly adhere to the traditional federal setup. It overhauled the 1987 Constitution through massive restructuring or surgery, and incorporating principles, concepts, etcetera, etcetera which may be foreign to the federal system, and even erect a weak democracy made weaker yet by some undemocratic ingredients spiced with some elements of fascism and totalitarianism.

Three provisions build or support a dictatorship: Section 2 of Transitory Provisions,  Section 16 of Article XIX, and Section 4 of Article XXI.

The first consists of one whole article, Article XII of Transitory Provisions.

A Federal Transition Commission is to be composed of the President himself, as the chairman, and 10 others appointed by the President from a list of personalities submitted by a search committee.

But the members of the search committee are themselves appointed by the President.

Among others, the commission is empowered to organize and reorganize and fully establish the federal government and the governments of the federated regions. It shall prepare a transition plan which, among others, can remove all in the government service, thereby violating the security of tenure guarantee of all government officials and employees.

Section 2 of the Transitory Provision provides:

The incumbent President is prohibited from running as president in the 2022 election under the Constitution. But what complicates the situation is that while Section 1 of the article expressly provides that the term of the President and the Vice President shall end on 30 June 2022, which shall not be extended, there will be an election for the transition president and transition vice president, who shall run in tandem—The word “in tandem” is now being constitutionalized—on a date that depends on when the CCCOM will be ratified by the people. It would be held six months after ratification, which is presumed to be some years before 2022.

It would thus obviously follow that after the ratification and before 30 June 2022 we will have two presidents, the incumbent will serve until 30 June 2022 and the transition president, if he will not be the incumbent, who will serve until the end of the transition with the transition President exercising all the powers of the President under the 1987 Constitution.

The catch here is that the incumbent President is not prohibited from running as transition President.

To avoid therefore the anomaly of having two presidents and vice presidents during the transition period, the incumbent is allowed to run as transition president but not for president under the new Federal Constitution. He will surely win.  He would choose former Senator Bongbong Marcos as running mate. And since they would run in tandem with the vote for the president counted in favor of the vice president, Marcos will easily win.

Then the incumbent President will become the first president of the federal system, and Marcos too, the first vice president. Then in the first election under the federal system, if there will be any change in the proposal, Marcos can run for president. Why then hold election for transition president and transition vice president? Considering the powers of the transition president, it would still not be unlikely that the transition plan and his power could make him rule beyond 30 June 2022.

Another provision gives the President control of the federated regions.

Section 16 of Article XIX on national security and public order gives him the power to intervene and take all the measures necessary and proper in case any Federated Region fails to comply with its obligation as provided for in the Constitution which seriously undermines the sovereignty, territorial integrity, economy or the unity of the federal republic.

The reality of this dictatorial rule is further bolstered by a doctrine of ‘lawless violence’ as a ground for the declaration of Martial Law. Under the present Constitution, Article VII, Section 18, there are only two grounds: invasion on rebellion—Section 18, Paragraph 6 of Article VIII of CCCOM—the grounds are invasion, rebellion or lawless violence. The President can easily justify ‘lawless violence’ at any time.

The third undemocratic provision is the total perpetual deprivation of the people to amend or revise the Constitution in respect of ‘the democratic and republican character of the government in a federal structure, its indissolubility and permanence.’

Section 4 of Article XXI. In the language of said section, ‘these shall not be subject to amendment or revision.’”

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Topics: Tony Lopez , Hilario Davide , Charter change
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