The bible of Philippine politics

Nagbanta ulit! Duterte to step down if no new federal constitution passed in 4 years


by: Xave Gregorio

President Rodrigo Duterte once again threatened to step down, this time saying he would quit if a proposed new federal constitution does not pass in four years.

Incidentally, Duterte’s term ends in four years – exactly at noon on June 30, 2022.

But the President said he will resign a day before the constitutionally mandated end of a president’s term if moves for Charter change fails to come to fruition.

“You can be sure that after the end of four years, and nothing can replace a workable, viable Constitution that is federal, and is long term, I will step down a day ahead,” Duterte said Thursday (February 1) in a speech in Davao City.

“I won’t be the President for all time. Because the military and police won’t allow me to extend my term even for just one day,” Duterte said.

Duterte and his congressional allies are pushing to change the Constitution to usher in a shift from a unitary form of government to a federal one, which would see the Philippines divided into autonomous states.

The House of Representatives is already tackling a draft of the proposed new constitution, with Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez eyeing a plebiscite in time with the 2019 elections. The Senate, on the other hand, is only beginning to hold public hearings on the proposal to amend the Charter.

“Kung ‘yung federal system ma-approve ‘yan by ‘19… 2019, 2020 I assure you I will step down if it calls for a new set-up and a new president,” Duterte said.

However, the proposed new constitution being deliberated upon in the lower house do not require Duterte to step down until the second Monday of 2022.

According to a briefer provided to House reporters by the constitutional amendments committee, Duterte will be exercising “all powers and functions of the head of state and head of government under this Federal Constitution until the election of the next President and Prime Minister in May 2022.”

This means Duterte will be both the president and prime minister.

Among the powers of the president under the proposed new constitution is the oversight power over the executive, legislative and even the judicial branches of government.

Many of the functions currently exercised by presidents under the current Constitution were retained in the proposal except for the president’s power to appoint Cabinet members, which is reserved for the prime minister.

Aside from this, the prime minister has the power to “prepare the program of government, prepare the annual budget of the Federal Republic, execute all laws, lawful orders and decisions of the Federal Supreme Court, and enter into contracts, including loans, on behalf of the government.”

Duterte, however, reiterated he does not seek to become a dictator.

“I am not asking for a support as dictator. They won’t allow me. They will shoot me,” he said.

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