The House committee on constitutional amendments created four technical working groups (TWGs), composed of its members, which will draft the Philippine Federal Constitution.
Each of the four groups will handle specific areas to be covered in the drafting of the new Federal Constitution.
TWG 1 chaired by Rep. Corazon Nuñez-Malanyaon (1st District, Negros Oriental) will handle the provisions on the Executive-Legislative (Articles VI and VII); New article on Federal and Regional Powers, Numbers of States; and Local Government and Taxation/Allocation of Resources (Article X).
TWG 2 chaired by Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro (2nd District, Capiz) will draft the provisions on the Judiciary (Article VIII); Amendments or Revisions (Article XVII); Suffrage (Article V), Citizenship (Article IV); and Bill of Rights (Article III).
TWG 3 chaired by Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd District, Negros Occidental) will prepare the Preamble; National Territory (Article I); Declaration of Principles and State Policies (Article II); General Provisions (Article XVI); and Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII).
Lastly, TWG 4 chaired by Rep. Vicente Veloso (3rd District, Leyte) will handle Social Justice, Labor and Others (Article XIII); Education, Science and Others (Article XIV); National Economy and Patrimony (Article XII); New article on the Bill of Duties; Accountability of Public Officials (Article XI); and Family (Article XV).
In his preliminary remarks, Rep. Roger Mercado (Lone District, Southern Leyte), committee chairman, said the committee deemed it prudent to come up with a draft Philippine Federal Constitution to guide the House members when they deliberate on proposals to shift from unitary to federal system.
Mercado stressed that discussions on federalism should focus on providing solutions to the country’s economic problems, especially poverty, the peace and order situation, and the fight against illegal drugs.
Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Lone District, Marinduque) proposed that the committee should ask the House members to provide their inputs in the drafting of the new Federal Constitution so that the various TWGs can incorporate them in their deliberations.
Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. (3rd District, Negros Oriental) suggested that a member of a particular TWG may also submit proposals to the other TWGs, even if he is not a member of such groups.
Rep. Tricia Nicole Velasco-Catera (Party-list, MATA) recommended that the various TWGs should consult the various government agencies during their deliberations in order to come up with a more comprehensive draft Charter.
Veloso suggested that the committee should increase the membership of TWG 1, as the areas that it will handle are the essence of the federal system.
Castro said the TWGs should work closely with the Constitutional Commission that President Rodrigo Duterte plans to establish in order to avoid duplication of efforts.
Jonathan Malaya, Executive Director of the PDP Federalism Institute, turned over to Mercado the draft “Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines,” for consideration by the various TWGs created by the House panel.
Malaya said the draft Federal Charter was prepared by PDP Federalism Committee Group, which is composed of individuals from various sectors, among which are the academe, civil society, and the legal profession.
Mercado said the “Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines,” will serve as a resource material as the TWGs prepare their draft Constitution.
Lawmakers agreed that the creation of the TWGs would expedite the deliberations and drafting of the new Charter.
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.
They also agreed to submit the final draft of the Philippine Federal Constitution to the House committee on rules, chaired by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas (1st District, Ilocos Norte), by December this year.