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House approves Cha-cha for federalism on final reading

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the measure which proposes the revision of the 1987 Constitution.

With 224 affirmative votes, 22 negative votes and three abstentions, the chamber approved Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15 principally authored by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, which seeks for a shift to a federal form of government and the removal of the term limits for lawmakers.

Under the draft federal charter proposed by the measure, the form and structure of the government will be a presidential-bicameral-federal system.

The President and the Vice President will have the same powers and functions as stated in the 1987 Constitution, but a vote for the President will also be a vote for the Vice President, and they should belong to the same party.

The draft federal charter of RBH 15 will also retain bicameral legislative department where the House of Representatives will be composed of not more than 300 members, and the Senate composed of 24 senators.

A total of 80 percent of the House members will be composed of lawmakers from legislative districts, while 20 percent will be party-list lawmakers.

Members of the legislative branch will have a term of four years with no term limits, as opposed to the current term of three years in the 1987 Constitution.

Meanwhile, members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts will be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council, which will be created in lieu of the Judicial and Bar Council.

Members of the Supreme Court will serve for a term of 10 years or until they reach the age of 70.

The draft federal charter also states that territorial and political subdivisions of the country will have its own political autonomy.

Federal states may be created upon petition of any contiguous, compact and adjacent provinces, highly-urbanized and component cities, and cities and municipalities in metropolitan areas.

Local governments and federal states will have to power to create their own sources of revenue and impose taxes, fees and charges.

The national government, however, will provide local governments with their just share in national taxes as determined by law.

All branches of the government will continue to function in a transitory capacity until all successors are elected.

The first election under the proposed charter will be held on the second Monday of May 2022.

The draft federal charter also specifically states that the terms of President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo will not be extended.

Duterte is also prohibited from running in the 2022 elections under the draft federal charter.

Resolution of Both Houses No. 15 was earlier returned to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments to amend the transitory provision excluding the vice president in the line of succession in case the President is removed, resigns or is permanently incapacitated to perform his duties. —NB, GMA News

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