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Ateneo presidents slam railroading of draft charter.

Ateneo presidents slam railroading of draft charter !-- -- Robertzon Ramirez, Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - December 19, 2018 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines In a rare move, the presidents of five Ateneo universities nationwide have jointly criticized the railroading of the draft federal charter recently approved by the House of Representatives. The statement issued on Monday was signed by Jesuit priests and presidents Karel San Juan of Ateneo de Zamboanga, Joel Tabora of Ateneo de Davao, Jose Ramon Villarin of Ateneo de Manila, Roberto Exequiel Rivera of Ateneo de Naga and Roberto Yap of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan.

"We call on our legislators to stop fast-tracking the Charter change process and to take proper steps to consult all sectors in order to re-establish credibility and trust in the process," the statement read. "Imposing their will on people will only elicit stronger resistance to federalism, as many will see this as a ploy of dynastic politicians to further strengthen their hold on power," it added.

The Ateneo presidents noted the swift passage of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15, which outlines the draft federal charter, at the House of Representatives.

Critics said the period of debates for the bill was limited by the House leadership led by former president and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. "Evidence-based discussion and debate (are) critical in crafting reform options for the country's governances and development.

An inclusive and transparent process is indispensable in establishing a credible result, one that hopefully could unite the country in a common understanding of the way forward," the Ateneo presidents said. "Sadly, this process of deliberation had been undermined and hijacked by the recent move of Congress to push for Charter change," they added.

The Jesuit educators said the process at the House dramatically departed from the reform process initiated by President Duterte, noting that the consultative committee created to review the Constitution was tasked to push for debates and discussions on constitutional reforms. They also cited troubling features in the draft charter, including the removal of the anti-political dynasty provision, the removal of term limits for lawmakers and the removal of the article on social justice and human rights.

"These features of the RBH 15 alone, combined with unreasonable pace and non-inclusive process, are likely to exacerbate further the trust deficit that presently characterizes the federalism discussions," the Ateneo presidents pointed out. They called on the administration to undertake a wider and more consultative discussion on constitutional reform, saying only a genuine and participatory national dialogue can make Filipinos attain a level of consciousness where they can properly decide on the matter.

The university presidents emphasized that drafting a constitution could take some time and "cannot be bound by a constricting timetable such as the term of President Duterte." They said the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations and Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines have even expressed willingness to work with the lawmakers.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Dec 18, 2018
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