MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday rejected the idea of leading a transition government if the administration's push for a shift to federalism succeeds.
Duterte said he is “in a hurry” to step down from the presidency and would even quit his post once his administration manages to establish a federal government ahead of his term’s expiration in 2022.
“If there can be a federal [government] set up in 2020, I’m going to step down. I don’t want any transition position. I don’t have plans of perpetuating myself in power,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III earlier this month said extending Duterte’s term beyond six years is a possibility as it may be part of a transition period once an amended Constitution initiates a shift from a unitary to a federal form of government.
The Senate and House of Representatives have started working on changing the charter, agreeing to set aside for the meantime an impasse on whether they should vote jointly or separately on the proposed amendments to the charter.
As Congress worked on the proposed amendments, Duterte has also appointed 19 of the 25-man consultative committee tasked to propose changes to the charter.
Critics say Duterte and his congressional allies’ move to amend the Constitution may be aimed at perpetuating themselves in power, and restricting several rights already enshrined in the present charter.
1987 CHARTER FRAMERS REJECT CHA-CHA
Meanwhile, the country's top legal minds, among them framers of the 1987 Constitution, and various groups on Tuesday launched a coalition against charter change, warning against the administration's push for the shift to a federal form of government.
Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide and former Commission on Elections Chairman Christian Monsod, who both served as framers of the 1987 Constitution, led the launch of the "No to Cha-Cha" Coalition at the University of the Philippines College of Law in Diliman, Quezon City.
Other top lawyers, among them former Sen. Rene Saguisag and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza, representatives from the religious sector such as Sister Mary John Mananzan and Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan president Carol Araullo, former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, representatives from the Lumads and other sectoral organizations, joined the launch.
Davide reiterated his position against charter change, noting that it would only propagate the power of political dynasties and also lead to feudalism, instead of federalism.