By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives initiated on Monday fresh moves to revise the 1987 Constitution by adding a Bill of Duties and by deleting the three-year term limits for all elective officials, except the president and the vice president.
In his sponsorship speech of Resolution of Both Houses No. 15, Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, said the measure also adopted the Constitutional Commission proposal for a two party system.
Under the proposal, the 1987 Charter provision prohibiting political dynasty was also deleted.
Veloso explained that the lifting of the term limits is borne out of the historical fact that Senate had “great names” when the 1935 Constitution was in effect.
“If we had term limits then, who would be prominent in our history books but the wife of Senator Tanada, Senator Padilla, Senator Diokno, Senator Primicias. Because dynasty is an offshoot of term limits,” he said.
Former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, one of the authors of RBH 15, said the provisions of her proposal was the mechanism establishing federal states instead of identifying them.
In her sponsorship speech, Davao Oriental Rep. Corazon Malanyaon, vice chairman of the charter committee, disputed claims that there is no popular support for Charter revisions.
She recounted that during committee hearings conducted in the provinces at least79 percent of attendees agree to the move to revise the 31- year-old Charter.
“The country now more than ever needs retrofitting by revising the 1987 Constitution. Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolf Acuna had said that most framers (of the 1987 Constitution) did not expect it to last unamended more than five years,” Malanyaon said.
Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said he is backing the lifting of term limits as one way of putting an end to political dynasties.
Veloso revealed that the bill of duties mandates that Filipino citizens to be loyal to the Republic of the Philippines and to exercise their rights responsibly.
The proposed Charter adopted the Concom proposal to develop a two-party system and provide subsidy to political parties on the basis of their electoral performance in the previous election.
It ignored President Rodrigo Duterte’s rejection of the party-list system by acknowledging the right of marginalized sectors to comprise 20 percent of the members of the House of Representatives.
RBH No. 15 seeks to ban the election of Congress members who are not college graduates. However, current members lacking the required educational background will no longer be affected by this provision.
Members of Congress may also be removed from office through a system of recall that will be adopted by Congress.
Lawless violence, under RBH 15, will now be a ground for the declaration of martial law provided that it is done so to protect public safety.
The Judicial and Bar Council will be abolished and in its stead, the Judicial ‘Appointments and Disciplinary Council will be created. The body will now include as ex-officio members a member of the minority from the Senate and the House of Representives.
Also to be named ex-officio members of the council are the chairperson of the Civil Service Commission and the Secretary of Justice.