There is no rush to amend the 1987 Constitution and establish a federal system of government, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III told reporters on Thursday night.
He said most of the senators were not in a hurry to revise the Constitution, and that the Senate would take its time deliberating on the Duterte administration’s bid to amend it.
Sotto made his statement even as the head of the Philippines’ anti-trust body on Friday backed the creation of a Federal Competition Commission under the Consultative Committee’s proposed constitution.
Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said that under the Con-Com’s proposed draft constitution, the PCC would be replaced with a constitutional body with “more teeth” in curbing unfair trade schemes.
“The proposal includes making the [PCC] into a Federal Competition Commission and making it a constitutional body to give it more teeth and independence, and [the] power to address highly anti-competitive practices,” he said.
“This would be very good for competition, obviously,” Balisacan said.
Sotto said the senators deemed it better to know first what the people wanted than rush into things.
“It is much better to get first the sense of our countrymen and the way it is now, the sense right now is they don’t understand how federalism will be and what is the effect of federalism in our country,” Sotto said.
A Pulse Asia survey conducted from June 15 to 21 showed that majority of the Filipinos do not want the shift from unitary to a federal form of government.
Sotto said the public’s lack of support for federalism may be the reason “some are proposing that no election be held.
While President Rodrigo Duterte’s wish for Congress to hasten the Charter change process had weight, he said, there were many issues that needed to be addressed.
Opposition Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis Pangilinan earlier said Congress should not be rushed into amending the Constitution to pave the way for federalism.
He said amending the Charter was not like passing ordinary legislation. It required study and deliberation.
“There are a lot of imponderables and implications that can affect our people of today and of the generations to come,” Drilon said.
“Let the committee system work. Let the committee draft its report and route it to its member. Then, let the debate proceed.”
Citing past studies, Drilon said only three regions―the National Capital Region, Central Luzon and Region IV―were found to have the capability and resources to stand on their own once the country shifted to a federal form of government.
He warned that the real motive behind the moves to rush Charter change could be “no-election”.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, said there would be no railroading in the Senate of the proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution.