President has no choice but to complete term – Alvarez
President Rodrigo Duterte has no choice but to remain the country’s leader during the transition to a federal government, according to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
“[Mr. Duterte] has a contract with the people. We cannot violate that contract,” he said on Wednesday.
Alvarez was asked to react to Mr. Duterte’s pronouncement on Monday that he would not accept any position in a transition government if the administration succeeded in its effort to revise the 1987 Constitution and federalize the republic.
“I do not want any transition position. I do not have any plans of perpetuating myself in power. It [is not] in my system,” the President said in a speech in Malacañang.
But Alvarez, a close friend of Mr. Duterte, said there was no way for someone else to be President during the gradual transition to a federal setup.
‘Preparing for 2022’
“This means the President, the Vice President, the senators, congressmen will remain … It’s the same system but slowly, you are shifting, preparing for 2022, because we envision that the first elections under a federal setup will be in 2022,” he said.
Though Mr. Duterte would not complain if his term were to be shortened, Alvarez said other incumbent officials might not feel the same way.
“Maybe the President will not complain, but do you think Vice President [Leni Robredo] will not complain?” he said. “We have to respect their contracts. Their contracts are for six years, so let us respect that. Now, in the transition government, as a transitory provision, we can put that those who will run for senator can serve only until 2022.”
“We can make it so that there’s no carryover, because the structure of government would be different by then,” the Speaker added.
Under the existing Constitution, senators who will be elected in the 2019 midterm elections are supposed to have six-year terms. But they may have to make do with three years under pending Charter change proposals.
‘Wait for input’
Alvarez also said he had asked the House constitutional amendments committee, which is drafting a federal Constitution, to take its time and to wait for input from the consultative commission recently appointed by the President.
“Let us wait for their input so we have everything covered,” he said.
As for the parallel House hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the Speaker said he saw no problem if the measure were to be passed ahead of Charter change proposals.
“We just have to see to it that the structure of the BBL is adaptable later to a federal setup,” he said, adding that he wished to have the bill passed before Congress’ adjournment next month.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.