By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Responding to critics, President Duterte told the Consultative Committee tasked to draft a federal constitution to revise their work and add a provision that will force him to step down before the country even forms a transition government.
Duterte made the statement following reports that the ConCom, chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, has created a provision that will allow Duterte to possibly stay in power until 2030.
In a speech during the opening ceremony of the National Science and Technology week in Davao City, Duterte also said that the Congress should approve his suggestion.
“The constitution now being crafted, it’s being reviewed by the Congress, but the Consultative Committee of Justice Reynato Puno can make this correction and I will suggest: Make my term coterminous with the beginning of the draft constitution,” Duterte said Friday evening.
Duterte also reiterated that he does not want any part in the transition period from unitary to a federal form of government in 2019, if the new constitution would be approved by then.
“Make me stop being president during the transition. In other words, elect a president before you make the transition from the unitary to federal. I urge Congress and Puno to make the final changes,” he said.
“I would be willing to accept the proposal. So I urge Congress, and kay Puno ngayon, committee (and Puno’s committee), to make the final changes,” he insisted.
The President said that Vice President Leni Robredo can take his role in the transition government if she wants to.
“Make me president only next year, 2019, and I will accept it if that will satisfy ladies, Robredo gusto mo ikaw na, depende (it’s yours if you want it). You can have it. You can have it if you want to. ‘Yan ang sagot ko sa iyo (That’s my answer to you),” Duterte said.
“The Senate, nandiyan ka man sa (anyway you’re there in the) Senate, convince your colleagues, and to the house of representatives,” he added.
The President then told the ConCom and to the Congress to work on the changes immediately.
“Trabahuin ninyo (Work on it). Make the changes now. Make me resign or ask me to step down by a constitutional feat that there will be an election before we proceed with the adoption of the constitution,” he said.
Duterte also blasted his critics who kept on saying that he is pushing for federalism so he can stay in power.
“‘Yung opposition, sabi niyo gusto akong (The opposition, you said I want to go) beyond 2022? Of course not. Sorry to disappoint you. Excuse me. Hindi ako ganoon (I’m not like that),” he said.
Under the proposed charter, all elected officials will be given a four-year term with one possible reelection. Duterte will be allowed to run for a new four-year term, and then another reelection for another term that will end on 2030, if the new constitution would take effect on 2022.
Duterte has been pushing for federalism as he said this will resolve the long-standing territorial dispute in Mindanao. He also said this will allow provinces to benefit more from their resources.
His critics have been claiming that Duterte wants a federal government so he can stay in power, but the President has repeatedly denied the allegations.
“‘Wag kayo maniwalang I tend to stay forever. ‘Yan lang ang ano ko and the sole reason kaya ako nag-ano dito (Do not believe their claims that I tend to stay forever. The sole reason why I am doing this) is because I don’t want trouble,” Duterte earlier said.