“Kayo lang ba ang qualified sa Manila pero kami dito sa probinsya hindi kami marunong?” Atty. Antonio Arellano of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) in-charge of drafting the proposed federal charter questioned some critics of in a press conference.
The press conference was held last Sept. 20 at the 8th Floor Community Center. Along with Atty. Arellano was Mr. Wendell Tamayo.
The ConCom, which mandates that a 22-man committee shall review the 1987 Constitution specific to the form of government, how to make LGUs stronger, and liberalize the economy, was created by President Duterte under Executive Order No. 10.
Arellano added that the current unitary set up of government was used to favor only certain areas and families in the country.
“We have observed along the years was there has been a widening gap between the rich and the poor. And the concentration of economic and political powers is in the hands of a few which is not the very essence of the democracy that we want to establish from the time of the first Philippine Republic,” he shared.
The ConCom member further explained that the unitary system was never used for the democratic aspirations of the people.
“There is no sharing of this power, these resources, this responsibility, and this development. It was all concentration of power and of wealth,” Arellano said.
The president will still be elected nationally, but among the changes in the proposed charter is that the president and his/her vice presidential running mate will be elected as a team.
According to Tamayo, this will eliminate the chance that the president and vice president will come from different parties and oppose each other.
“You have a vice president that is basically reserved waiting for the president to die, to resign, or to be impeached—under the ConCom draft that is addressed,” Tamayo pointed out.
With regards to the Bill of Rights, Arellano said they have expanded its coverage, citing the three generations of human rights: civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and collective rights.
Non-state actors who will violate the Bill of Rights will also be held liable under the proposed federal charter. Tamayo added that violations of human rights are not just committed by the state.
“The violation of our environmental rights, the right to a healthy ecology, are actually even done by private persons, private companies, mining companies, even transnational corporations are violating our rights.
“Even in the context of our right against climate change we know the violators—the developing countries or a company in another developing country spewing carbon emissions into our garden, they are now covered because they are non-state actors,” he said.
In his closing statement, Tamayo said that all constitutions in Philippine history were created out of revolts and exasperation of the marginalized against the elite, noting the result was always bloody.
“Today our exercise is in a different situation. This is the first time we are given the opportunity to revisit our basic law and propose changes within the context of freedom and democracy. If this clamour of our people for greater acountability, for greater resources, or more power to the people and to the regions are not properly addressed, I feel that it will boil down to the marginalized, for the marginalized and for the regions to take another means other than peace,” he concluded.