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Robredo or Sotto? Palace doesn’t care who succeeds Duterte under federal gov’t

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MANILA — Malacañang said Friday it does not matter who succeeds the President should there be a shift to a federal system of government, so long as there is a clear line of succession.

Newly-designated Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark in reaction to the House of Representatives’ draft charter that places the Senate President and not the Vice President next in line to the President under federalism.

The House’s draft charter, which was criticized by Vice President Leni Robredo, has been returned to the committee for further review.

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has also agreed to return the provision where the Vice President is the first successor to the presidency ahead of the Senate President.

“Sa akin (To me), it doesn’t matter who. Basta meron (So long as there is one). What is important to my mind is there should be a line of succession, regardless of who these people are. Kasi, magkakaroon ng vacuum, magkakaproblema (Because there would be a vacuum and this would be a problem),” Panelo told reporters in a Palace briefing.

Panelo, however, emphasized that it is even more important to educate the public about charter change and federalism since draft charters are not yet “final.”

“I think i-educate muna natin ang ating mga voters. Lumalabas sa survey 80 plus percent ang di nakaka-intindi ng Constitution (Let’s educate the voters first. Surveys show that more than 80 percent don’t understand the Constitution),” he said.

He reiterated that all amendments to the Constitution are still subject to the ratification of the people.

“Even the draft submitted by the (Consultative Committee) created by the President is not the final draft because there are many groups who are submitting drafts — proposed amendments to the Constitution and they will be submitting that to Congress. Even our office has its own draft,” Panelo said.

Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, a member of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to draft a federal Constitution, urged the public to participate in the drafting of their own Constitution.

“The people should take the initiative because Congress is their representative, but their position may not necessarily be reflective of the demand, a strong demand for the dismantling of political dynasties,” Parcasio said.

“We even told them to scrutinize, if possible, revise or amend, the draft that we made in the ConCom, as well as all attempts to change our Constitution. It must be a Constitution by the people,” he added.

Last month, Malacañang announced that the ConCom’s proposed federal Constitution is open for comments from the public to help improve the proposal.

President Rodrigo Duterte will consider the people’s comments before officially transmitting the proposed federal Constitution to Congress.

The ConCom and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) expressed optimism that the shift to federalism would materialize within Duterte’s term.

Shifting towards federalism is one of the President’s campaign promises and advocacies. (PNA)