Tell it to SunStar: The Senate

HERE are sone points on the Senate in the draft constitution of the PDP-Laban Federalism Institute.

--“The Senate shall now be elected by region just like in other Federal countries.”

It is a matter of course that in a federal setup elections are organized by and in the regions. The president is elected in the regions and federation-wide.

--“There shall be three senators elected from each region.”

In my opinion, three shall be the maximum. It should depend on population, number of provinces and number of barangays. For example in the Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel concept of 11 federal states, the State of Northern Luzon has 15 provinces and 6,752 barangays, while the State of Minparom has only 5 provinces and 1,459 barangays.Despite the big differences all regions shall have three senators? That is questionable.

--“In the exercise of its legislative powers, the Senate shall concur on all bills and resolutions passed by the Federal Assembly before it becomes law. But in order to avoid the duplication of functions between the two chambers and to streamline the legislative process, the 3-reading rule shall no longer apply to the Senate. One reading shall suffice….The power of the Senate shall be limited to the review of bills passed by the Federal Assembly.”

Aguy, that is not the task of a second legislative chamber in a federal or regional setup. Their task is to make sure that no law is passed against the interest of his region or all the regions. Consequently they must be involved in the deliberation of every bill from beginning on through 3 readings.

--“…it shall now be the Senate who shall confirm appointments made by the President and the Prime Minister… and to other positions…that require confirmation.”

Who says that in a federal setup positions require confirmation? The President dismisses incompetent appointees by himself. The Prime Minister is urged by parliament to revamp his Cabinet in case of crisis. Parliament will not admit any interference in their business as we have seen newly in the case of Cebu Rep. Gwen Garcia.

--“The Senate shall continue to act as the Impeachment Court.”

There will be no need for Impeachment in a federal setup. A president elected by at least 50% of votes in the second election round as in the French system, cannot be impeached. The Prime Minister is replaced by a new Prime Minister after a no-confidence vote by a majority vote of the parliamentarians.

--“The Senate approves treaties and international agreements.”

No, that is the task of the parliamentarians as representatives of the people.

I actually do not see any role for senators in a federation. It seems to me that the PDP-Laban study group only wants to include senators in the setup because it wants to retain the Cory Constitution by amendments.

But a federation is so fundamentally different from a centralized state that only a rewriting of the constitution promises success. You cannot develop a modern car on the base of a jeep.--Erich Wannemacher
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