Bayan Muna Chairman and former Congressman Neri Colmenares expressed concern today over the creation of a powerful Transition Commission under the Federal Constitution proposed by the Consultative Committee.
“We view with grave concern the creation of a powerful Transition Commission tasked with promulgating a Transition Plan that could overhaul the entire government and centralize powers on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, especially since, not only is he the chairman of the Commission but all its members will be appointed by him,” warned Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares.
“Article XXI Section 2 of the Consultative Committee’s proposed Federal Constitution empowers the Commission to promulgate a Transition Plan and grants it the legislative power to promulgate “rules, regulations, orders, proclamations, decrees, and other issuances” to implement this Plan. Worse, it is granted the judicial power to “resolve all issues and disputes that may arise” out of the plan and the impending termination of public officials as a result of the reorganization. Terminated public officials cannot even go to the Supreme Court to question their termination, a strange power on a Commission tasked to decide on the validity of the termination order issued by the same Commission. Pres. Duterte through the Transition Commission he heads, can practically exercise critical governmental powers replacing the entire government”.
Colmenares also warned of the possibility of Pres. Duterte declaring all government positions vacant through his Transition Commission.
“Article XXI Section 8 of the Federal Constitution provides that ‘All officials of the government under the 1987 Constitution shall continue to hold their office and exercise their respective powers, under such terms and conditions as may be provided in the transition plan’. This means that Pres. Duterte through his Transition Commission can take away powers of any government office or official and transfer it to his favored few. Worse, he can interpret this provision to empower him to terminate any government official in consonance with the Transition Plan and appoint their replacements. The fact that Section 9 assures separation or retirement pay for all “permanent employees of the government who may be separated from service as a result of the reorganization” provides no comfort as the entire government will be littered with Duterte appointees,” said the former solon.
“Any semblance of checks and balance in the government will be destroyed if Pres. Duterte is empowered to terminate public officials and government employees including those in the constitutional bodies like COMELEC, COA, Civil Service and the Commission on Human Rights. It must be noted that under Article XXI, Section 3 (a), the Commission’s Transition Plan shall include plans for the “Federal Government, the independent Constitutional Bodies, the Federated Regions and other component units”. It is now possible for Pres. Duterte to declare many government positions vacant through the Transition Commission “for the orderly shift to the new system of government” as provided under Article XXI, Section 2 (a) of the proposed Federal Constitution” he said.
“With his control of the entire goverment, Pres. Duterte will have all the advantages to win when he runs for reelection in 2022. Article VII Section 4 of the proposed Federal Consitution does not prohibit him from running again in 2022. Under the administration of Pres. Duterte the Federal Constitution is not about federalism. It is about dictatorship,” concluded Colmenares.###