Duterte ready to play hardball with ‘difficult’ Congress
MANILA — Incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez has warned that presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte will not hesitate to undertake “extreme measures” if he does not get his way in the House and the Senate, specifically in laying the ground work for changing the Constitution and reimposing the death penalty, in the first 100 days of the 17th Congress.
“We respect the different opinions on these matters but the President campaigned on the basis of these platforms and the people voted for him. He has the mandate to effect these changes. If they will make it difficult for him that he cannot do his job and fulfill his promise, he will not hesitate to undertake extreme measures,” Alvarez said in a press conference at Midas Hotel in Pasay City during the signing of a coalition for change between the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) and Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats and the party-list coalition.
Alvarez, Duterte’s handpicked choice for Speaker in the 17th Congress, has ruled out declaring martial law but would not say what extreme measures Duterte would take if Congress refused to pass priority legislation.
“We are not thinking of martial law, we also don’t like that. We will look for other ways to fix and fulfill these promises but in a more diplomatic way,” said Alvarez.
In his campaign speeches, Duterte had threatened to send military troops and tanks to shut down a defiant Congress.
Alvarez said that, as Speaker, he would ensure that bills on the death penalty and Charter change or constitutional amendments would be filed within the first 100 days of Congress.
Duterte has proposed to impose the death penalty on heinous crimes—like killing, robbery and rape—by the gallows, or double hanging even.
But Alvarez said lawmakers would have to decide whether to exact the maximum penalty through other means, such as lethal injection, electrocution and firing squad.”They’d be dead anyway,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez said Duterte was also dead set on shifting from the unitary form of government to a federal form of government.
Although Duterte had proposed to do it through a Constitutional Convention, Alvarez found this method too long and costly as members would have to be elected and they could take at least a year to finish their proposals.
Alvarez said that Congress could opt to change the Constitution through a constituent assembly (where the House representatives and senators would make the amendments themselves) or people’s initiative signed by at least 12 percent of the voters. SFM/rga
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