At least 2 senators per region eyed in new Constitution: Concom

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By Azer Parrocha

MANILA — To give the Senate a more geographical representation of the regions, a sub-committee of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the 1987 Constitution is proposing to require each region in the Philippines to have at least two elected senators in the new Constitution it is drafting.

In the current Constitution, the Senate is composed of 24 senators elected nationwide.

The ConCom is proposing regional elections for senators under a federal setup.

“The Senate will be composed of senators elected by regions. Each region to have two or more elected senators depending on how many federated regions will eventually be created,” former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, chair of the ConCom sub-committee on the structure of the federal government, said in a press briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center on Thursday.

Nachura, however, said that the ConCom has yet to decide on how many federated regions there would be in the Philippines when the subcommittee in charge of the matter submits its recommendations.

”We have not yet decided how many federated regions there will be. The constituent states are to be denominated federated regions. That is something we already agreed on,” Nachura said.

“The Senate is supposed to be the geographical representation of the regions because the representative of the population is the House of Representatives. That’s where we can elect as many numbers of representatives, depending on the population,” he added.

Nachura said the House of Representatives would meanwhile consist of a representative elected by district and those to come from a proportional representation of political parties and sectoral organizations.

“Each city with a population of at least 400,000 (current 1987 Constitution is 250,000), and each province, shall have at least one representative,” Nachura said, reading from his presentation.

There will also be sectoral representation elected by region from the socio-economically disadvantaged sectors of labor, peasants, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and urban poor.

According to Nachura, the sub-committee also included a proposed provision to address turncoatism, which will prevent the switching of parties.

“If you are an incumbent already [representing a party] and you switch political parties, automatically you will be dropped as a member of the House of Representatives for changing political parties,” Nachura said.

“Remember it is the political party that names you as congressman. So when you leave your party, you’re dropped from Congress,” he added.

He said a congressman must stay as a member of the political party until his term expires.

The sub-committee also decided to include in its proposal a four-year term for all elective public officials (congressmen, senators, Vice President and President) with one reelection.

Meanwhile, all elective public officials should be a holder of a college degree or its equivalent based on the government equivalency program. (PNA)

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