AFTER President Rodrigo Duterte completed the list of the 25 members, led by retired chief justice Renato Puno and ex-Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr., that will comprise the Constitutional Commission (Con-Com), Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Ray Villafuerte said on Saturday it’s now “full steam ahead” in Congress to tackle the amendments to the 1987 Constitution, including the shift to federalism.
Villafuerte said the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council also gave priority to the proposed shift to federalism among its 27 priority bills, he said.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is set to meet with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to decide when lawmakers from the two legislative chambers could convene as a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to draft a new Constitution toward shift to the federal system of government, he added.
The committee on constitutional amendments in Congress also recently created four technical working groups tasked to draft a proposed Philippine Federal Constitution.
“All these positive developments mean that the process to shift to federalism is now in full throttle. As I have been saying all along, federalism will only fulfill its goal of redistributing wealth to the countryside if it is accompanied by moves to liberalize the Constitution’s restrictive economic provisions,” Villafuerte said.
The amendment of the Constitution must also include the omission of the provisions limiting foreign ownership in various sectors of the economy, he added.
He urged the technical working groups to study the provisions on the national economy and patrimony must strongly consider proposals to relax the restrictions on foreign ownership so that “the country could regain its competitive edge among other Asian economies in attracting long-term foreign direct investments that would supercharge growth and create more jobs, especially in the countryside.”
“Federalism and foreign investments will sustain the economy’s growth momentum and enable the government to put flesh into President Duterte’s vision to disperse growth and development to the regions,” he said.
According to Villafuerte, the first technical working group was created to help come up with a proposed Philippine Federal Constitution would draft provisions on the Executive-Legislative (Articles VI and VII); New article on Federal and Regional Powers, Numbers of States, and Local Government and Taxation/Allocation of Resources (Article X).
On the other hand, the second group is in charge of the Judiciary (Article VIII), Amendments or Revisions (Article XVII), Suffrage (Article V), Citizenship (Article IV) and Bill of Rights (Article III).
Another TWG will tackle the Preamble, National Territory (Article I), Declaration of Principles and State Policies (Article II), General Provisions (Article XVI) and Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII).
The fourth group shall deal with the provisions on Social Justice, Labor and Others (Article XIII); Education, Science and Others (Article XIV); National Economy and Patrimony (Article XII); New Article on the Bill of Duties; Accountability of Public Officials (Article XI), and Family (Article XV).
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