Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III today said the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) wanted to introduce a semi-presidential system or a “hybrid parliamentary system” in the proposed federal government.
“This is uniquely Filipino. We adopt the advantages of the parliamentary system at the same time respecting the Filipinos’ preference for a strong President at the helm,” said Pimentel, president of the administration party leading the call for Charter change.
Under the proposed system, the country, he said, would have a President, directly elected by the people as head of state, and a Prime Minister, chosen by the House of Representatives and formally appointed by the President as head of government.
Pimentel said the President would be in charge of national defense and of foreign affairs, and would serve as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He would also be responsible for the appointments of officials in the federal government.
The Prime Minister, he said, “runs the government” and would have power over all matters concerning domestic and economic policy that are not assigned to the President. He would be responsible for the appointment of officials not covered by the President.
“A majority of the heads of ministries/departments shall come from the House of Representatives. This is the Cabinet,” Pimentel said.
In addition to the recommended changes in the executive-legislative set-up, he said the PDP Laban also proposed to abolish the post of Vice-President but the position could be retained if it would be the wish of the Filipino people.
However, Pimentel said the party wanted the vote for the President in the elections to become a vote also for the Vice President, who would be given a new task as presiding officer of the Senate since the federal state would adopt a bicameral legislature.
The Senate, he said, would represent the regions while the House of Representatives would represent the population, reflecting the principle of federalism that both the regions and the population are represented in the bicameral federal legislature.
The new Senate, he said, would be represented by senators from each of the proposed eleven regions of the country, numbering from three to seven members per region, to raise the total memberships from a low of 33 to a high of 77.
The Senate’s powers and responsibilities, he said, include concurring in treaties and international agreements, confirming the appointments made by the President and Prime Minister, and acting as impeachment court, among others.
Pimentel said the Senate would have limited law-making powers as laws only need to pass the House of Representatives. It can only propose legislation, or concur in a measure that has impact on regional governments, like the passage of tax laws and national budget.