Concom finalizes federal, regional powers under draft federal Constitution

The Consultative Committee (Concom) tasked by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to draft a federal Constitution has finalized the most difficult part of the draft, namely the distribution of powers between the federal and regional governments and the structure of the federated regions.

Concom senior technical assistant and spokesperson Ding Generoso said that the Concom is set to vote on the whole draft on Tuesday (July 3).

“Tomorrow (Tuesday), we will have the en banc voting, nominal voting on whole draft of the Constitution. Every member will rise and explain their vote on the entire draft,” Generoso said in a press conference in Pasay City on Monday.

After voting, Generoso said that several copies of the 105-page draft will be submitted to the office of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on or before July 9.

Meanwhile, the Concom will proceed with regional presentations and consultations until August 19. Feedback gathered from consultations will be part of the committee’s final report, Generoso said.

Exclusive and shared powers

Under the draft federal Constitution, the Concom has divided the powers of government into exclusive powers and shared powers.

Both the federal government and the federated regions will have exclusive powers. But there are powers that they will jointly exercise.

“There are powers that are exclusive to the federal government and there are powers that are exclusive to the regional government within their jurisdiction. The regional governments can only exercise their exclusive powers within their jurisdiction, they cannot go beyond their jurisdiction,” Generoso said.

Powers exclusive to the federal government include defense, security of land, sea, and air territory; foreign affairs; international trade; customs and tariffs; citizenship, immigration and naturalization; national socio-economic planning; monetary policy and federal fiscal policy, banking, currency; competition and competition regulation bodies; social security benefits; federal crimes and justice system; law and order; civil, family, property, and commercial laws, except as may be otherwise provided for in the Constitution; prosecution of graft and corruption cases; intellectual property; and elections.

On the other hand, powers exclusive to the regional government within their jurisdiction include socio-economic development planning; creation of sources of revenue; financial administration and management; tourism, investment, and trade development; infrastructure, public utilities and public works; economic zones; land use and housing; justice system; local government units; business permits and licenses; municipal waters; indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare; culture and language development; sports development; and parks and recreation.

Shared powers are exercised by both federal government and regional governments.

Structure of federated regions

Under the draft Constitution, 18 federated regions are created, composed of 16 symmetrical regions– existing regions plus Negrosanon Federated Region which will include the province of Siquijor and two asymmetrical regions namely Bangsamoro and Cordillera.

Generoso said that Bangasamoro and Cordillera have different designs from other regions because of their “identity-based demands.”

He pointed out that the Concom decided to stick to the 18 regions noting that it was the “least disruptive” for transition since these regions are already established.

“The easiest way to do it now is to go with the existing number of regions so that we will not encounter greater difficulties. Because the government already has an existing administrative structure within these regions,” Generoso said.

Moreover, he said that there is also a “working relationship” established among the provinces so it will not be difficult to put them together into a regional government.

If certain regions have to merge in the future, Generoso said that the federal Constitution also has a provision that empowers the federal Congress to pass a law that will allow the merger of two regions.

However, no decision was made as to establishing a federated capital. Generoso noted that a capital is normally established by law.

Every federated region shall have a regional governor and regional deputy governor to be elected in tandem by the members of the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA).

“We want to prevent a big province from monopolizing political power in the region,” Generoso said.

Generoso pointed out that the RLA will be composed of representatives to be elected two ways—half from the component provinces, highly urbanized and independent chartered cities and half by proportional party representation elected regionwide.

All of them will serve for a four-year term with one reelection and should be elected in tandem. PNA