OPINION: Hilbay warns of the danger of Duterte’s ConCom

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Jul 06 2018 01:13 AM

We have yet to see the official copy of the new Constitution drafted by the Consultative Committee formed by President Duterte last December so we are relying on the Notes released to media which states the formation of a Federal Republic of the Philippines.

The approved draft, which states that the Philippines would have 18 federated regions which would get a share of not less than 50 percent of all the collected taxes on income, excise, value-added tax and customs duties, is undergoing polishing in grammar and spelling before it is submitted to the President on or before July 9, in time for his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, ConCom spokesman Conrado Generoso said.

Generoso denied that the draft Federal Constitution being circulated online dated June 27 and June 30 is official as it does not contain corrections and changes made as late as morning of July 3.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman finds it strange that retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, ConCom chairman, said that they will be conducting regional consultations. He said it “patently places the cart before the horse.”

He sees the consultation as “overtly designed to secure, if not coerce, popular anointment of the Consultative Committee’s handiwork which was approved without the benefit of prior extensive local consultations.”

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay also sees something fishy in the way the Duterte ConCom tried to hide the approved document from the public. Then, when it was leaked, they said it was not final.

He suspects that revisions are still being made.

Hilbay said that actually, the Consultative Committee has no constitutional value. “None, because it is not the authorized proposing entity under the Constitution. Only Congress or a Constitutional Convention can propose changes to the Constitution.”

Hilbay had been warning the public about Duterte’s Concom, which he sees as part of the “steps towards constitutional dictatorship in 2018.”

“1. This Constitutional Committee will vote in favor of its work. Once the members vote, the committee will then submit the draft constitution to the President.

“2. The President will endorse the draft to the Congress.
 
“3. The Congress will then convert itself into a Constituent Assembly. If Senate does not approve, the House will go its own way and let the Senate go to the Supreme Court.

“4. The Con-Ass will edit the draft to allow for Term Extension of the President and other public officials, and No Elections in 2019.

“5. The Con-Ass will immediately submit the draft for plebiscite. With the President's control over LGUs, PNP, AFP, and other institutions, they can force the people to ratify.

“6. Or the President can declare nationwide martial law and have the new constitution "ratified" through Barangay or Citizen's Assemblies, the way Marcos illegally changed the 1935 Constitution.

“There. Marcos 2.0.”

Puno dismissed speculations that the proposed federal Constitution would lift the limit of Duterte’s term and allow him to stay in power indefinitely.

Hilbay is not convinced. Yesterday he tweeted: “Every serious attempt at Charter Change has been about term extension for the President. Ramos & Arroyo tried but failed. 

“The only one successful was Marcos. He did it by bribery & coercion, then martial law. The 1973 Constitution was fraudulently ratified, but the SC validated him.

Hilbay enjoins the public to be alert of any attempt to sabotage our democracy: “Huwag po tayong magpaloko.Ipaalam sa mamamayan ang kalokohang ito.”

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