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Solon wants no term limits on members of federal assembly

A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday proposed the removal of the limit on the terms of future members of the federal assembly, saying that some of the functions of the proposed body will already be delegated to the local assemblies.

At the meeting of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, AKO BICOL party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe asked Davao Oriental Representative Corazon Nunez-Malanyaon of the "fears" which would require the need for a term limit for members of the federal assembly.

Nunez-Malanyaon is the chairperson of the panel's Subcommittee 1, which proposed the establishment of the federal assembly, the national legislative department.

Batocabe pointed out that the federal assembly would only deal with national federal issues, whereas issues related to government agencies, such as the enactment of their budget, will already be devolved to local and state assemblies.

"When we talk about federal assembly, it refers to legislation pertaining to the federal government only. And I think all other agencies, let's say the DPWH, are already devolved into the local. Ito, puro mga federal issues lang, so ano ang fear na kinakatakutan na dapat magkaroon ng term limit sa federal assembly?" he said.

"Because if we don't have that kind of fear, then we might just as well rely on the will of the people for these members of the federal assembly.... There is no reason to limit the term of officials. Because we elect qualified officials to the federal assembly and that will depend on the people," he added.

Nunez-Malanyaon told Batocabe that the federal assembly will be vested with the primary legislative power.

"Every bill shall be initiated and passed by the federal assembly," she said.

She added that the appropriation process for the agencies is "the same as the power of the House of Representatives," but Mercado pointed out that only 50 percent of it is relegated to the federal assembly.

"So in other words, the powers of the federal assembly are diminished as compared to the present Congress. There is no reason why we should limit the term because the federal assembly, as I see it now, will be hosting lawmakers that will legislate laws on national policies and budget is one aspect, whereas in the present Congress, everything is centralized. Now it's already devolved to the states," Batocabe said.

"So in view of that, I'd like to manifest that we do away with the term limit with respect to the federal assembly. But with respect to the federal states, we retain the proposal of a term limit," he added.

The Duterte administration has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government as a means to address issues particularly in strife-torn Mindanao.

In an earlier interview, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that if Congress decides to convene in a constituent assembly this month, the proposed new federal charter may be submitted for a referendum simultaneously with the scheduled Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections this May.

On Tuesday afternoon, the House of Representatives adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 9, which seeks to convene Congress into a constituent assembly. —NB, GMA News