THE Consultative Committee (ConCom) organized to draft the Federal Constitution has finished and will soon submit its work to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. Although the latest draft has not been circulated to the public, the commentary on it has been ongoing but needs to rapidly broaden and escalate.

The draft is noted for its strong provisions on the prevention of political dynasties and turncoatism. A family may only field two candidates in an election: one for a national position, the other regional. Politicians are not allowed to switch parties two years before and after an election.

But there are worrisome provisions. Foremost is the granting of step-in powers to the President to prevent any region from leaving the federal republic. Described by ConCom Chairperson Reynato Puno as “awesome” and “all-encompassing,” they include powers of all three branches of government that the President can assume to prevent the breakup of the country. This reinforces reference to a “permanent and indissoluble nation” in the Preamble.

This is not harmless, hard as advocates of the draft may try to spin it as in defense of nationalism. If such were the case, what is in federalism that would encourage adventurist breakaways? Why risk it by shifting to a federal set-up?

It isn’t so much the dangers of the nation’s dissolution that we should be worried about but rather the dangers of concentrating powers in a person. Other than our two decades of experience of how Ferdinand Marcos Sr. manipulated the system and wreaked violence on those who stood in his way, there have been recent examples of how institutions and measures that were supposed to prevent the rise of authoritarianism could be set aside and overwhelmed by vested interests within the institutions themselves.

If we ever doubted that the very actors who were supposed to keep excessive powers in check could readily and systematically dismantle post-Marcos dictatorship measures, we need only look at Martial Law in Mindanao and its two extensions, the ouster of the former Supreme Court Chief Justice, and the hobbling of the Commission on Human Rights and the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

There is an endgame beyond concentrating powers in a president who apparently commands unquestioning support: to facilitate the full return of an unrepentant family ousted in 1986.A transition from Duterte to the Marcoses with Arroyo trappings is not unlikely.

The draft Federal Constitution prohibits term extensions for elected officials who will serve until 2022.But ConCom member Julio Teehankee opined that the President and Vice-President could run again in 2022, hold office for four years, seek the vote once more, and be in power until 2030. Teehankee said it is a “reboot” and “reset.”

The problems of our country call for political transformation, among others. If federalism only brings about a reset that restores political conditions similar to where we were prior to the departure of the Marcoses then why attempt it at all?