Duterte did not mention term extension in Charter amendment talks — Sotto
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte did not mention anything about term limits or extension during a meeting attended by some senators and congressmen back in November 2020, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday.
Sotto made the clarification amid concerns that the constitutional amendments being pushed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives would change term limits and extension of lawmakers, as well as the President, especially with the approaching 2022 elections.
“I can tell you bluntly na walang sinabing ganun ang Pangulo. Ang sinabi niya, opening pa lang nung usapan namin at nakaharap naman sila, mayroong limang congressman na nandoon, may mga senador na nandun and about three or four high-level members of the armed forces who were there,” Sotto told reporters in an online interview.
Sotto said Duterte was only pushing for amendments on two aspects—the partylist system and the economic provisions of the 33-year old 1987 Constitution.
“Sabi niya, ‘The best way is that we remove the partylist system or change it in the Constitution so we can call for a constituent assembly and amend that, then of course, samantalahin niyo na. You can amend the economic provisions. Pwedeng those two points pwede na’,” Sotto said.
“In so many words, ‘yun ang sinabi niya, wala siyang sinasabing term limits, wala siyang sinasabing extension of terms… Walang ibang binaggit, walang ibang pinag-usapan,” the Senate President added.
In the same interview, Sotto said that Charter change is “nearly impossible” as it entails replacing the entire Constitution. However, constitutional amendments—or simply amending one to two provisions—can be discussed, he added.
In December 2020, Senators Francis Tolentino and Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa filed a resolution convening Congress as a constituent assembly to introduce “limited amendments” to the Constitution.
In the resolution, the senators said reforms are needed to be introduced to the country’s Constitution “in order to aid the country in achieving economic growth, especially during this time of rising global uncertainty.”
It was, however, not specified what amendments will be introduced to the Constitution. The senators only said that the amendments are only “limited to the provisions on democratic representation and the economic provisions of the Constitution.”
Meanwhile, hearings on constitutional amendments will resume in the House of Representatives next week.
Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments, said that proposed amendments to be discussed only deals with the “restrictive” economic provisions of the Constitution.
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