Romualdez says 18th Congress should prioritize shift to federalism

By Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez said on Wednesday the incoming 18th Congress should rally behind President Duterte's efforts to amend the Constitution to ensure the country's economic growth.

Rep. Martin Romualdez (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN) Rep. Martin Romualdez (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

He said Charter change (Cha-cha) should be prioritized by the incoming House leadership to put the country's economic landscape on solid footing.

“We will keep our dedication, commitment, passion and the flame burning in pursuing federalism until we reap the real benefits of genuine constitutional reforms for our children and the succeeding generations,” Romualdez, one of the frontrunners in the Speakership race, said in a statement.

The president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) described President Duterte's federalism advocacy as "a golden opportunity to unlock the doors of peace, progress and prosperity of the country and the people."

“I urge my colleagues and the Filipino people to stand behind President Duterte and help push a federal Constitution to create opportunities and for strong economic growth to be felt also by ordinary people,” Romualdez said.

In December last year, the House of Representatives, voting 224-22 with three abstentions, approved on third and final reading Resolution of Both Houses No. 15, which calls for a presidential-bicameral-federal system of government and removal of the term limits for lawmakers.

RBH 15, principally authored by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, proposes the adoption of a bicameral Legislature wherein the House shall be composed of no more than 300 Members and the Senate shall be composed of 24 Senators.

The Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the government, except the appropriations for the Congress and the judicial department.

RBH 15 mandates that the President and Vice President maintain the same powers and functions as that of the 1987 Constitution. It provides that a vote for the President shall also be a vote for the Vice President and the President and Vice President must be from the same party. Their term of service under the draft constitution will also be limited to four years with one year for re-election.

Romualdez, who will serve his fourth term as Leyte representative in the incoming 18th Congress, expressed Philconsa's unwavering support to President Duterte’s federalism initiative and its renewed commitment to defend and protect the 1987 Constitution.

“I am proud to say that the Philconsa has become the premier marketplace for the healthy and vibrant exchange of ideas, perceptions and insights on constitutional issues affecting public interest. We have been doing this consistently with our aim to incite and stimulate awareness, respect and obedience to the Constitution,” the former House Independent Bloc Leader of the 16th Congress or during the Aquino administrationsaid.

He even stressed that the "pristine supremacy" of the Constitution, which serves as a “Bible of good governance” and “beacon of light” should be maintained.

“The Philconsa is a classic paragon of democracy. It encourages everyone to say his piece, and out of this composite of ideas, insights and impressions, we hope to reach a consensus on what is good and what is best for our country and our people,” Romualdez said.

Among the Philconsa officials are retired Court of Appeals Justice Manuel “Lolong” Lazaro as chairman, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno as President Emeritus and other legal luminaries.