April 3, 2019 – The fourth IATF TRP Cluster Meeting was held on the Development Academy of the Philippines. Among the attendees of the meeting included members of the ConCom Chief Justice (ret.) Reynato Puno, Assoc. Justice (ret.) Antonio Eduardo Nachura, ConcCom Committee Secretary Atty. Gideon Mortel, and LOGODEF director Professor Edmund Tayao.
The meeting, facilitated by Atty. Engelbert Caronan Jr., was purported to be more of “question and answer type” in nature to address doubts and confusions of different government agencies and stakeholders about the draft Federal Constitution. Specifically, the topic of the meeting was about the transitory provisions of the Bayanihan Constitution.
Former Justice Puno explained that the intent of the transitory provisions is to ensure a smooth transition and to have a transitory commission that is non-partisan in character. He revealed that it was President Duterte himself who wished for there to have an election for a transition president (and vice-president) which reflects political will for the transition to be free from (bad) politics. In relation to this aspiration, Justice Puno holds the Article XXII Section 9 of the Bayanihan Constitution with great importance as “it not only ensures participation, but also allows for the screening of appointees”. It is envisioned by the ConCom members that this provision is a strategy to allow the engagement of the marginalized or ethnic groups in advising about their ideal leaders because they are the ones who know what leader is best for them.s
Former Justice Nachura on the other hand made an important clarification on the relationship of Congress and the Transitory Committee during the transition period. According to Justice Nachura, the role of Congress during the transitory period will be as an instrument of the Transitory Committee in supporting the transition to Federalism.
It was inquired by the Mindanao Development Authority whether it is possible to have an approach for the transition that pilots some federated regions. Professor Tayao explained that the problem with gradual formulation is that it is likely to create a scenario where some regions are federated while some are not. He describes this scenario as “being in Limbo”, explaining the confusion and chaos that will likely follow.
The meeting ends with the a note from former Justice Puno that the essence of the draft constitution is “bayanihan” where the draft got its name. The essence of this proposed constitution, he claimed, is that the poorer or less developed regions will be assisted by the government. In other words, it is a constitution that truly aspires for development.