Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CHA-CHA Train to NO-EL?

'All systems go for Charter change'--Palace
By Lira Dalangin-FernandezINQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:54:00 08/12/2008
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE)

"It's all systems go for Charter change," a spokesman for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared Tuesday, as MalacaƱang expressed support for a joint resolution at the Senate that called for the creation of 11 federal states in the country.

"It's all systems go for Charter change. We are supporting Senate Joint Resolution No. 10," Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said in a press briefing at the Palace.

Authored by Senator Aquilino Pimentel, the resolution also called for the convening of Congress "into a constituent assembly for the purpose of revising the Constitution to establish a federal system of government."

Aside from Pimentel, other signatories to the resolution are Senate President Manuel Villar, Senators Edgardo Angara, Rodolfo Biazon, Pia Cayetano, Juan Ponce-Enrile, Francis Escudero, Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

"We are fully supportive of this," Dureza said.

When asked whether a timeline has been set to get the process going, Dureza said there was none and that the President was leaving the matter up to Congress.

Dureza said that "naughty insinuations that she [Arroyo] was going for Cha-cha [Charter change] because she wants to extend her term in office" prompted the President to make her position clear.

Dureza said that moves for a federal state of government have been at the Senate all along and the President has been talking about this right from the start.

Dureza said he has yet to check whether there was a parallel measure at the House of Representatives, but added that he expected its members to come up with one now that the President has expressed her open support.

The joint resolution aims to change the "highly centralized system of government" in Manila, which has "brought about a spotty development of the nation where preferential treatment has been given to localities whose officials are friendly with or have access to an incumbent administration."

It said the "lopsided arrangement has spawned a host of problems, including massive nationwide poverty to runaway insurgencies and rebellions that feed on the social inequalities in the nation."

"The federalization of the Republic would speed up the development of the entire nation and help dissipate the causes of the insurgency throughout the land, particularly the centuries-old Moro rebellions," the resolution said.

The 11 federal states called "centers of finance and development" to be created would be: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Minparom (Mindoro, Palawa, Romblon), Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and the State of Bangsamoro.

Under the resolution, the President and the Vice President will be elected and will serve a term of six years with one re-election. The President and Vice President will be voted as a team.

The resolution also calls for the election of six senators in each of the 11 component federal states.

Nine other senators will be elected to represent the Filipinos overseas. This will expand the membership of the Senate from the current 24 to 75 members, according to the resolution.

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives will be elected by district but limited to a maximum of 350.

The resolution provides that the senators will serve for a term of six years and congressmen, three years. The senators will be limited to two terms and congressmen, four terms.

Pimentel had said his proposed mode of electing senators would considerably lessen the cost of elections and keep victors from resorting to corruption to recover campaign expenses and pay off poll-related debts.