Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Tuesday said the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) is pushing for a uniquely Filipino, semi-presidential executive-legislative set-up under the proposed federal system of government.
“We seek to benefit from the advantages of the parliamentary system while respecting the Filipinos’ preference for a strong president at the helm, at the leadership,” he said of the proposal so the people can directly elect their president who will remain the head of state and the symbol of unity for the entire nation.
In the planned semi-presidential executive-legislative set-up, he said, the National Assembly will elect the prime minister to be formally appointed by the president. He will be the head of government and will have power over all matters concerning domestic policy that is not assigned to the president.
The president will be the commander-in chief of the Armed Forces and will be in charge of foreign affairs and of national defense, among other important national concerns, he said.
On the sidelines of the 35th anniversary of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) Sundaynight at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Complex, Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City, Pimentel said PDP Laban is also proposing that the vote for the president shall also be a vote for the vice-president who will become the presiding officer of the Senate.
But the Senate will have a new role, he said. The senators, whose number is expected to rise from 33 to 77 members, will be elected by regions to make sure that each of the proposed 11 regions will be represented.
The Senate, he said, will tackle laws that affect the country like the national budget and national defense, and concur treaties and international agreements.
It will also be the Commission on Appointments (CA), Impeachment Court and the amendments from the Constitution will come from the Senate.
“In federations, the upper house typically represents the regions while the lower house represents the population,” he said. “The laws which concern domestic policies don’t need to pass the senate.”
Pimentel said the proposed federal government would then be responsible for trade, customs, defense, national security, foreign policy, economic policy, currency and monetary while the regional government would have exclusive powers over areas primarily involving basic services.
These are in sanitation and sewage, waste management, fire protection, housing, regional planning and development and organizing local governments and tourism promotion, among others.
All other powers are called concurrent powers, he said, like in social welfare and development, industry and agriculture, employment and social security, health care, sports development, energy and natural resources, disaster risk reduction and management, police, election administration, human rights, infrastructure development, transportation, communications and education.
“Sharing iyan, they have shared powers,” he said.
But even if the country adopts a federal system, Pimentel said the Philippines is still one country governed by one Constitution with one armed forces and one national police force, one flag, one national anthem, one central bank, one monetary system, one foreign policy and one public education system.
“And the secession of any group of people or any regional would continue to be proscribed and prohibited,” he said.
Pimentel said warlordism will never be allowed to sprout or proliferate and the anti-political dynasty provision of the Constitution will be made self-executing under the proposed amendments to the Charter.