No term extension for Duterte – Roque
President Rodrigo Duterte no longer wants to serve as a transitional leader in a federal government, and is willing to step down as early as 2019 once the proposed federal constitution is approved by the people, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday.
Roque said the President had told his Cabinet secretaries that he was “tired” and that the position was for “someone younger.”
The President received a copy of the draft charter on Monday afternoon from retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, head of the consultative committee that drew up the proposals for a shift to federalism.
The President did not speak after receiving the draft and just posed for photographs with the members of the panel.
Roque told reporters that the President had resolved not to stay in power after his six-year term, even if the public would clamor for him to do so.
“There’s nothing [that can change his mind]… The consultative committee asked me if the President would agree to serve in the transitory leadership. I said, if that’s within 2022, yes. But if it is beyond 2022, definitely not,” Roque said.
“Before he said he can serve as transition leader until 2022, but earlier he announced that he wanted a provision that says the transition leader should be elected, and that he is willing to step down from his post once the new charter is approved,” Roque said.
“He has made a personal decision. It’s only until 2022, earlier if possible,” Roque said.
“He said he was very tired, he’s old and maybe electing a transition leader would enable a younger leader to take over,” he said, adding that the President had not mentioned anyone who might replace him.”
On Friday, the President told the consultative committee to put in a provision in the draft charter that would require him to step down from office before the transition period.
Roque said the President also wanted Congress to write a provision that would bar him from seeking reelection, contrary to the provisions of the proposed Charter.
“There’s a special request to Congress to include a provision that the incumbent President shall be barred from running or seeking reelection under the new Constitution,” he said.
But the President will continue to enforce the 1987 Constitution and see to the holding of midterm elections in 2019, he added.
To douse fears that the President might stay in power beyond 2022, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III proposed that the draft federal charter include a ban on the President and other former Presidents from seeking the presidency.
“We can make it say that ‘the incumbent President as well as all persons who held the position of President under the 1987 Constitution shall be ineligible to run for President’ under the new constitution,” Pimentel said.
“[T]hat’s equal ground. We are not favoring the incumbent President but we are not targeting for disqualification only the incumbent President,” he added.
Let debate begin
The Puno committee urged the public to join discussions on the draft Charter.
“Let the debate begin. For this is what democracy is all about,” the committee said in a statement.
Pimentel, president of PDP-Laban, the President’s party, said the Puno committee would embark on regional consultations on federalism.
Substantive discussions would result in more support for the proposal, he said. —With reports from DJ Yap, Marlon Ramos and Leila B. Salaverria
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