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Federal-presidential vs hybrid system

Place cards for the Legal Scholarship Program Board of Judges SY 2017-2018

First published by the  / 05:12 AM March 04, 2018

As its first major decision, the Consultative Committee (Con-Com) formed by President Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution chose the “federal-presidential” system over the “hybrid semi-presidential” scheme by a vote of 11-7.

Contrary to PDP-Laban. Similar to our current unitary setup, the winning system calls for a tripartite separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers with a nationally elected president and vice president. And—similar to that in the United States—it has a secondary layer of regions or “states” exercising authority over local governance including state courts (which are separate from federal courts).

However, this significant Con-Com milestone runs contrary to the PDP-Laban’s concept of federalism under which, per the ruling party’s website as of March 2017, the country would have a president, as “head of state … directly elected by the people … responsible for national defense and foreign affairs” and a prime minister, as “the head of government … elected by the House of Representatives/National Assembly … and responsible for domestic and economic policy.” In my humble view, this is more akin to the presidential-parliamentary system of France and Russia.

Under the US federal-presidential model, the vice president is not only retained but also given the power and duty to preside over the Senate, which is the coequal lawmaking partner of the House of Representatives. And the Supreme Court retains its coequal tripartite status with the president and Congress.

In contrast, under the French system where the tripartite separation of powers is not observed, the vice president becomes redundant, and the Senate and the Supreme Court are reduced in status and power.

Given that PDP-Laban is the party in power, with President Duterte as its chair, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III as its president, and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as its secretary general, how will Congress treat this fundamental recommendation of the Con-Com? Will the PDP-Laban supermajority in Congress heed it? Let us wait and see.

Dissertation contest.

Kudos to Raphael Lorenzo Pangalangan of Oxford University and the University of the Philippines (UP) and to Tess Marie Tan of the University of San Carlos for copping the first and second places, respectively, in the 2017-2018 nationwide “Dissertation Contest” sponsored by the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity (FLP).

Pangalangan’s winning piece, “Enforcing Liberty and Prosperity Through the Courts of Law: A Shift in Legal Thought from Juridification to Judicialization,” will receive P300,000 plus a plaque of recognition during the formal awarding ceremony on March 23 at the Ateneo de Manila Law School in Makati. He is the son of International Criminal Court Judge Raul C. Pangalangan and Prof. Elizabeth Pangalangan of the UP College of Law.

Tan’s “Liberty and Prosperity in the Digital Age: Determining the Proper Treatment of Online Intermediaries in Light of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” will get P200,000 plus a plaque also. Both pieces may be accessed at I will analyze them in future columns.

Board of judges. They bested four other finalists: Rexlyn Anne Evora (Polytechnic University of the Philippines), Helen May Frias (Far Eastern University), Janine Faye Napoles (Centro Escolar University) and Joben Mariz Odulio (Ateneo de Manila University), who will each get P20,000 plus a certificate of recognition.

This unique intellectual writing contest, sponsored by the FLP, with funding support from the Ayala Group and cosponsored by the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS), aims to augment existing literature on the FLP’s core philosophy of safeguarding liberty and nurturing prosperity under the rule of law. It is open to third and fourth year law students and those taking masters of law.

The board of judges was composed of Supreme Court Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. (chair), former education secretary Edilberto C. de Jesus, Ayala Corp. general counsel Solomon M. Hermosura, PALS president and Ateneo law dean Sedfrey M. Candelaria, and Prof. Tanya Lat, members.


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