ConCom’s draft federal Constitution will help the poor: Puno

MANILAThe new federal Constitution being drafted by the expert panel tasked by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution will help the poor, said former chief justice Reynato Puno.

Puno, chair of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the 1987 Constitution, made this remark during the general assembly of the Association of Foundations in Makati last Tuesday.

Speaking before members of different non-government organizations (NGOs), Puno said the reason why a nation is poor is not because of geography or limited resources but the wrong distribution of political and economic power.

The former chief justice stressed that this wrong distribution of powers can be corrected in a federal form of government.

Puno, meanwhile, listed five reasons why the ConCom's draft federal Constitution could address the country's problem on poverty.

(1) ConCom's draft federal Constitution breaks overconcentration of power.

By changing the form of government from the current unitary to federal, it will break the overconcentration of power in the national government, Puno said.

In turn, he said, this will empower local governmentsthe provinces, cities and municipalities.

Unless we do so, economic progress will always elude them. Poverty will be their perpetual destiny. They need to be liberated from the prison house of poverty, Puno said.

(2) ConCom's draft federal Constitution enshrines socioeconomic rights in the Bill of Rights.

Puno said the ConCom's draft federal Constitution enshrines the most basic of the socioeconomic rights of the poor in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.

According to him, the current 1987 Constitution merely enumerates the socioeconomic rights of our people in its Declaration of Policies but failed to make them enforceable or demandable against the State.

The solution therefore is to include these socioeconomic rights as parts of our Bill of Rights. By doing so, these socioeconomic rights can be demanded by the poor against the government, just as civil and political rights can be demanded from the government, Puno said.

(3) ConCom's draft federal Constitution bans political dynasties.

Puno also said that the ConCom's draft federal Constitution brought the axe down on political dynasties, which he said monopolize both political power and economic resources, which cause poverty.

The ConCom's draft federal Constitution prohibits second-degree relatives from succeeding each other in an elective postwhether at the national, regional, or local level.

It also bans relatives within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity from running for more than one position in government.

Puno said true democracy will never be attained unless political dynasties remain. At present, no law prohibits political dynasties.

In a true democracy political power cannot be the monopoly of a few but should be in the hands of the many. The government must be run on the basis of merits and not by reason of genetics, he said.

(4) ConCom's draft federal Constitution breaks monopolies.

For Puno, another reason for poverty is the monopoly of the nation's wealth by a small elite, which also needs to be broken up.

The ConCom's draft federal Constitution ensures free and fair competition in trade and industry and all commercial activities; establishes and guarantees equal legal conditions for all economic activities; and prohibits agreements that are anti-competition, including anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions.

Like political power, economic power cannot be held by just a few. If we allow that monopoly, economic progress will not trickle down to the poor and the indecent gap between the rich and the poor will never be narrowed down to a decent degree, he said.

(5) ConCom's draft federal Constitution reconfigures the party-list system.

Lastly, Puno said the ConCom's draft federal Constitution reconfigures the party-list to assure representation of the marginalized sector in our legislature.

This time around, you can be sure the poor, through the party-list system, will really have an effective voice in our halls of Congress, he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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