This forum was the thirdina seriesof learning sessions on Charter Change and Federalism,jointly organized by the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD), the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). Held on 18June 2018 at the House of Representatives with the theme, “Bill of Rights and Justice System,”the forum aimed to discuss the context and relevance of human rights, and the proposals to restructure the provisions on the same, as well as the justice system under a federal set-up.
Deputy Executive Director Roentgen F. Bronce of the CPBRD opened the event by emphasizing that the Constitution in not only a constitution of government, but also a constitution of rights. He also explained how Filipinos see justice as a tool for one's security and stability, and the challenges facing the justice system today. Meanwhile, Atty. Benedicto Bacani of IAG highlighted the importance of this series of learning sessions on federalism and charter change, especially in main streaming the regional autonomy agenda of Muslim Mindanao and Cordilleras in the national policy making arena.
Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer of the University of the PhilippinesDiliman- Political Science Deparment narrated how our civic and political rights have evolved through the years, from the 1899 Malolos Constitution until the 1987 Constitution. She highlighted how the longstanding socio-political, economic, and human rightsstrugglesthat we facedduring the different regimes helped shaped and strengthened human rights and the Constitution that we have now. She believed that our Constitution, which reflects the contesting ideals and interests of the people, have both protected and enslaved us in one way or another.
Meanwhile, Prof. Gwen Grecia-de Vera of the UP College of Law provided a critical analysis of the provisions on human rights and the justice system under the 1987 Constitution.Her presentation focused on the theory of a written constitution, as well as the parts of the Constitution. She identified the provisions on government, liberty, and sovereignty as the main parts of the Constitution.In highlighting the aspects of constitution-making, she stressed how a written constitution is practically immutable in providing for our rights, and in laying out our general principles and policies. She also presented howthe treatment of not self-executing provisions in relation to self-executing provisionsof the present Constitution has affected the implementation of our national policies.
Prof.Grecia-de Vera also raised issues on the protection of human rights in the Constitution.Since our notion of the Bill of Rights under the constitution guarantees the protection of individuals against the national government, she posed an inquiry regarding the extent of its protection under a federal set-up, and the enforcement of the same. She also mentioned that aside from protecting the people against arbitrary and discriminatory use of power, another purpose of codifying the Bill of Rights is to limit a State’s law-making authority.
Atty. Roan Libarios, a former Member of the House of Representatives, and current memberof the Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution, presented the emerging proposals on human rights and the justice system. According to Atty. Libarios, the initial deliberations of the consultative committee have considered the following: 1) inclusion of “non-state agents” as violators of human rights;2) expansion of rights against unreasonable searches; 3) enhancement of the right to privacy; 4)strengthening of economic rights; and 5)the constitutionalization of the Writs of Amparo, Habeas Data, and Kalikasan.
With regard to the restructuring of the justice system in a federal set-up, it is initially proposed to assign various jurisdictions and powers to the following high courts: 1) Federal Supreme Court; 2) Federal Constitutional Court; 3) Federal Administrative High Court; and 4) Federal Electoral Tribunal. A notable power of the Federal Constitutional Court is to review and render advisory opinions on the constitutionality of enrolled bills before the Congress. There is also a proposal to empower and expand the existing the Judicial and Bar Council to include the Chairpersons of the Ombudsman, Civil Service Commission, and Commission on Audit as its ex-officio members. The proposed Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council would have the power to 1) thoroughly screen qualified Judges and Justices for promotion or transfer, and 2) investigate disciplinary cases involving members and officers of the Judiciary.
The learning session was concluded through an open forum that revolved around the concerns and issues of the audience on the emerging proposals being deliberated by the Consultative Committee. These includedquestions on legislative preview, inter-governmental relationships, judicial power and judicial review, speedy disposition of cases, expansion of powers of the Commission on Human Rights, and inclusion of other rights such as food security in the Constitution.
|9:00 AM - 9:30 AM||Registration|
|9:30 AM - 9:35 AM||Invocation and National Anthem|
|9:35 AM - 9:40 AM||
DR. ROMULO E.M. MIRAL, JR.
CPBRD, House of Representatives
|9:40 AM - 9:50 AM||
INTRODUCTION TO THE LECTURE SERIES
ATTY. BENEDICTO BACANI
Institute for Autonomy and Governance (AIG)
|9:50 AM - 11:20 AM||
Evolution of a Human Rights Regime in Philippine Constitutions
PROF. MIRRIAM CORONEL-FERRER, UP Political Science Department
ATTY. GWEN G. DE VERA, Professor
UP College of Law
Emerging Charter Change Proposals on Human Rights and Justice System Under a Federal Setup
ATTY. ROAN I. LIBARIOS, Member
Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution
|12:50 PM - 1:50 PM||Open Forum|
|1:50 PM - 2:00 PM||Closing|
ATTY. ROENTGEN F. BRONCE
Deputy Executive Director, CPBRD