May CA naman! Duterte won’t have total control of COA, Comelec, solon assures

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By Xave Gregorio

A lawmaker in the House of Representatives dismissed qualms that President Rodrigo Duterte would have total control over all constitutional commissions, including the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec), even as a proposed new constitution mandates all commissioners to resign.

House Deputy Minority Leader and ABS Party-list Rep. Eugene De Vera said that while all commissioners of constitutional commissions will have to tender their resignation a year after the new constitution is ratified and Duterte will be able to appoint replacements, the President will not have full control of these commissions as his appointees still have to face the powerful Commission on Appointments.

“Hindi pwedeng mag-abuse si Presidente sa appointment dahil may Commission on Appointments,” De Vera said in a news forum in Quezon City on Thursday (January 11).

De Vera, who is one of the authors of a draft constitution being deliberated in the House of Representatives, said he wants commissioners of constitutional commissions to resign to give the new Federal Republic “a fresh start.”

“‘Yung constitutional commissions naman ngayon, konti lang naman ‘yan. Tatlo, Civil Service [Commission], tatlo sa COA, pito sa Comelec. Nage-expire na rin ‘yan ang kanilang term. So gusto ko lang bigyan ng fresh start,” he said.

He added that he only copied the transitory provision in his proposed constitution from the transitory provision of the 1987 Constitution.

Article XVIII, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution cut short the terms of all commissioners of the Civil Service Commission, COA and Comelec to only last for one more year after the ratification of the Constitution.

“Kahit nung panahon ng katungkulan ni President Cory, dating presidente, eh being a fresh start ‘yun, so binigay natin ‘yun,” De Vera said.

This plan to axe commissioners of the CSC, COA and Comelec to allow Duterte to appoint their replacements has alarmed Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares, who said it will grant Duterte total control over the constitutional commissions.

This proposal is a provision under a draft constitution in Resolution of Both Houses No. 8, authored by De Vera and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Dong Gonzales, which is the first attempt of Congress under Duterte to tinker with the Constitution in the hopes of establishing a federal republic.