Federalism remains Congress top priority — Speaker Alvarez » Manila Bulletin News

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By Charissa M. Luci-Atienza

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez assured Wednesday that President Duterte’s federalism proposal remains Congress’ top legislative priority as the House of Representatives and Senate are expected to convene the Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) early next year to debate and scrutinize the draft Charter.

Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez. (JOHN JEROME GANZON / Manila Bulletin File Photo)

He said during the second Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council  (LEDAC) meeting on Tuesday night, House and Senate leaders agreed that the deliberations on proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution should jump-start.

“Iyung federalism, kailangan nang maumpisahan na talaga natin, magpupulong kami ng liderato ng Senado kung kailan kami puwedeng mag-convene into a Constituent Assembly (We discussed federalism, we need to jumpstart the discussions. We will discuss with the Senate  leadership when we are going to convene the Constituent Assembly),” Alvarez told reporters.

He said they will likely to convene Con-Ass early “early next year as the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments created four technical working groups (TWGs)  that seek to approve the draft new Philippine Federal Constitution by November.

“Maybe early next year (convening  Congress into Con-Ass), but the committee hearings already started,” he said.

Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, committee chairman, said the TWG members agreed to finish their work by November this year and submit the draft new Federal Constitution to the committee for final discussion and approval.

He said the TWG members agreed that the final draft of the Philippine Federal Constitution will be submitted to the House Committee on Rules, chaired by Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep.  Rodolfo Fariñas by December this year.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund  Villafuerte, one of the key proponents of the federalism, expressed hope that the creation of the TWGs that would draft the new Charter  would fast track the government’s shift to federal system.

“We welcome this inspired move by the House committee on constitutional amendments to create TWGs that would work on drafting a proposed federal constitution. This will certainly help speed up the process of shifting to federalism and enable us to scrutinize recommendations in an organized fashion,” he said.

Villafuerte urged the TWGs, particularly those in charge of the provisions on the National Economy and Patrimony, to strongly consider proposals  to relax the restrictions on foreign ownership for the Philippines  to regain its competitive edge among other Asian economies in attracting long-term foreign direct investments (FDIs) that would create more jobs, especially in the countryside.

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