The consultative committee envisions a Federal Republic with a bicameral legislature. The Congress shall be composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Each Federated Region shall be represented by two senators. Each senator shall have a term of four years but shall not serve for more than two consecutive terms.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than 400 members unless provided by law. Sixty percent of the members shall be elected by plurality of votes where each single-member legislative district shall have one seat in the House. The remaining 40 percent of the members of the House of Representatives shall be voted nationwide through a system of proportional representation. Every voter shall vote for a registered political party with closed list of nominees. Political parties that obtain at least 5 percent of votes cast under the proportional party representation system shall be represented and shall be allocated seats in proportion to the number of votes they receive.
The members shall be elected for a term of four years but shall not serve for more than two consecutive terms. In case of vacancy in Congress, a special election shall be conducted for the unexpired term. However, in case of vacancy in the proportional representation system, the vacancy shall be filled based on the preferential order of names on the closed list of nominees.
The member of the Senate must be a natural born citizen, at least 35 years old, holder of a college degree or its equivalent, a registered voter and a domicile in the federated region where he or she is to be elected for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.
Each member of the House shall be at least 25 years old, older of a college degree or its equivalent, and domiciled in the district where he or she is to be elected for not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election.
Members of Congress shall enjoy the privilege from arrest in all offenses punishable by imprisonment of not more than six years while Congress is in session. Also present is a provision for full financial and business disclosure including a prohibition to appear as counsel before judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies except when he is a party to the case.
The Senate will be headed by the Senate President while the House will be led by the Speaker. Each house may elect such other officers as it may deem necessary.
Much like under the 1987 Constitution, there shall also be a Commission on Appointments which is composed of 12 senators and 12 members of the House on the basis of proportional representation.
Congress by a vote of two-thirds of both houses, in joint session assembled, voting separately, shall have the power to declare the existence of war. If unable to do so, the president has the power to resolve. However, once Congress is able to do so it can revoke the president’s exercise of such powers. In times of war or other national emergency, the Congress may authorize the president, for limited period and such other restrictions it may provide, to exercise powers that may be necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy.
All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills shall originate in the House with the Senate concurring with or propose amendments thereto. A provision is also provided on the steps taken before a bill becomes a law. Congress is likewise vested with power to authorize the president to impose tariff rates, import and export duties, among others. It also provides provisions on tax exemptions as well as on what manner public funds shall be used.
As regards Federated Regions, the regional assembly, except the Bangsamoro and the Federated Region of the Cordilleras which has discretion on the kind of legislature it wants to establish, is vested with legislative power. The regional assembly is composed of duly elected members, half of whom shall come from the province, highly urbanized city, and independent chartered city, and the other half representing political parties through proportional representation. Political parties shall advocate clear principles and programs of regional governance. They shall promote the interest of of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors.
The regional assembly shall elect the president pro-tempore and such other officers of the assembly. The members of the assembly are required to make full disclosure of their financial and business interests including those of their spouse and children. They shall notify the assembly of any potential conflict of interest that may arise from the bills or resolutions of which they are authors.
The regional assembly may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. It shall not increase the appropriations recommended by the regional governor for the operation of the regional government as specified by the budget.
The legislative body of the Bangsamoro and the Federated Region of the Cordilleras will be as provided by their respective organic acts.
Overall, the legislative systems proposed by the consultative committee is acceptable. Senators elected by regions and proportional voting are good reforms in my view; they will enhance democracy. Add to this the self-executory anti-dynasty provision and our democracy is enhanced.
A parliamentary system would be a better path to take. A weaker and more symbolic president and a day-to-day Prime Minister is my preference. But in the present context, with motivations suspect, such a shift will not be supported by the people. Indeed, it is probably better to suspend charter change to a later time when we are not so polarized.
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