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President for Life? Duterte won’t do a Xi Jinping

/ 07:26 AM February 28, 2018

President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping MALACAÑANGPHOTO

There will be no President for Life Duterte.

Unlike Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Rodrigo Duterte is not interested in extending his term beyond 2022, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

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The Chinese Communist Party proposed on Sunday to remove a constitutional clause limiting presidential service to just two terms in office.

If approved by the rubber-stamp parliament at an annual meeting next month, the lifting of the presidential term limit would enable Xi, who is also the head of the Communist Party and the military, to serve for life.

The plan has been met with vigorous opposition and ridicule on social media.

Term limits on officeholders, including the president, have been in place since the adoption of the country’s 1982 constitution, which abolished lifetime tenure.

Duterte won’t follow

If Xi stays beyond the end of his term in 2023, President Duterte will not follow suit, according to his spokesperson, Harry Roque.

“[T]he President has said he wants to step down earlier if possible and will not stay one minute longer beyond 2022 [when his term ends],” Roque told a press briefing in Malacañang.

“That he will not stay longer than 2022 is absolute. He may step down earlier if the Constitution is amended,” he added.

Roque declined to comment on the Chinese Communist Party’s plan to extend Xi’s term, only saying: “We don’t comment on the internal affairs of our friendly neighbors.”

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Asked if Mr. Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan might entertain similar plans, Roque replied: “That may be something that the president of China may or may not want, but as far as President Duterte is concerned, that’s out of the question to extend his term.”

Since assuming the presidency, Mr. Duterte has sought to cultivate a close relationship with China in spite of Manila’s territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.

He has even joked about making the Philippines a province of China. —DJ Yap

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TAGS: Rodrigo Duterte, Xi Jinping
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