President Rodrigo Duterte will have “total control” of the three independent constitutional commissions on elections, audit and civil service under a proposed draft of the new Constitution pending in the House constitutional amendments panel.
Under Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 8, one of two constitutional amendment measures under review, members of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Commission on Audit and the Civil Service Commission shall be forced to vacate their positions one year upon ratification of the new Constitution, Bayan Muna chair and former Rep. Neri Colmenares said.
The new Constitution shall effectively grant Mr. Duterte the power to appoint the members of all the constitutional commissions, “practically controlling the appointments of all commissioners in one swift action,” he said.
“Even the tenure of employees of these Commissions are not safe under the proposed Cha-cha (Charter change),” Colmenares said in a statement.
Although currently lacking endorsement from Malacañang, RBH 8 was the first attempt in Congress under the Duterte administration to tinker with the 1987 Constitution after similar unsuccessful bids by previous administrations.
The 83-page draft was filed by Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. and ABS Rep. Eugene Michael de Vera, who took the initiative of drafting a new Constitution in August.
The measure is to be consolidated with another pending Charter change proposal submitted by the PDP-Laban Federalism Institute.
The constitutional amendments committee chaired by Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado is in the process of deliberating on the two proposals.
“Under RBH 8, the constitutional commissions will undergo a change in jurisdiction and composition—including the cutting of the terms of office of all its commissioners,” Colmenares said.
“If RBH 8 were ratified today, there was no need for [former Comelec] chairman Andres Bautista to resign, as the current Comelec will be practically abolished anyway when it is regionalized and its members appointed by President Duterte,” Colmenares said.
“In addition, the regionalization of the Comelec grants a single person, not a division, not an en banc but a single commissioner, the power over all election cases in a particular federal state” he added.
“Worse, the term of office of all incumbent members of constitutional commissions are reduced to one year, unless ‘sooner removed,’” Colmenares said.
“This is one of the most dangerous Cha-cha ever,” he said.
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