THE House of Representatives is now working on the draft amending the Constitution to make way for the federal form of government strongly pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Negros Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez confirmed to SunStar Bacolod Monday, August 28, that the draft will include assigning Negros Island as one federal state, which is his proposal.
Benitez is one of the chairmen of the four technical working groups (TWGs) formed last week by the House committee on constitutional amendments to expedite the draft of the new charter.
He said they are eyeing to finish the draft by end of the year, either by November or December.
“We are working on it now,” the Negrense lawmaker said.
Benitez chairs the third technical working group, which will draft the preamble, national territory (Article I), declaration of principles and state policies (Article II), general provisions (Article XVI), and transitory provisions (Article XVIII).
The first TWG is headed by Davao Oriental First District Representative Corazon Nuñez-Malanyaon. The group will prepare the provisions on the executive and legislative (Articles VI and VII), the new article on federal and regional powers, numbers of states, and the local government and taxation/allocation of resources (Article X).
TWG 2 will draft the provisions on the bill of rights (Article III), citizenship (Article IV), suffrage (Article V), judiciary (Article VIII), and the amendments or revisions (Article XVII). It is chaired by Capiz Second District Representative Fredenil Castro.
The fourth TWG, led by Leyte Third District Representative Vicente Veloso, will work on the national economy and patrimony (Article XII), social justice, labor and others (Article XIII), education, science and others (Article XIV), new article on the bill of duties, accountability of public officials (Article XI), and family (Article XV).
Duterte had been pushing for federalism to ensure a more equal distribution of resources to the provinces.
Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said he is hoping that the two Negros provinces will belong to the same state when the country shifts to federalism, as he remained optimistic even with the dissolution of Negros Island Region (NIR).
Marañon, who is also supporting the federal form of government, urged Negrenses to move forward as he believes that God has prepared something that is “higher than NIR.”
He noted that there are 14 states being eyed – six in Luzon, and four each in Visayas and Mindanao, with Negros Island as one federal state.
He also urged Negrenses to work together to make Negros as one state.