If I exceed my term, shoot me, Duterte orders troops
MAWAB, Compostela Valley — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday issued one of his most forceful denials that he would stay in power beyond his term, ordering soldiers and policemen to “shoot me,” or commit what could be tantamount to murder, if he would still be in Malacañang even for just a day beyond his term.
“If I exceed (my term) even for a day, I’m asking the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the police not to allow me or anybody else to mess up with the Constitution,” Mr. Duterte said in a speech at the opening of a marketplace for soldiers here.
“If I exceed my term, shoot me,” he told soldiers listening to his speech.
Is he serious?
High-ranking military officials in Mindanao refused to comment on the President’s order, but one colonel, who refused to be identified, said it was really the military’s duty to protect the Constitution.
There was no way to check if Mr. Duterte was serious or just cracking a joke for emphasis.
It was the latest denial by the President of reports linking current attempts to amend the Constitution to shift to a federal form of government, with a supposed plot to perpetuate Mr. Duterte and his officials in power.
Mr. Duterte’s lieutenants in the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, were working on a constituent assembly to open amendments to the Constitution and pave the way for a shift to a federal form of government.
Critics, including militant groups, claimed that the unseen driving force behind the bid to amend the Constitution was Mr. Duterte and his officials’ desire to stay in power beyond 2022, when the President’s six-year term expires.
Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman likened Mr. Duterte to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who stayed in power for more than 20 years.
Alvarez said if the federal government took form this year, the 2019 midterm elections may be canceled, which would mean the terms of office of local government officials and members of Congress would be extended without an election mandate. —Frinston Lim
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