ConCom member: Congress to determine whether Duterte term extension is allowed

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Highlights

  • Duterte could be President for 14 years under current federal charter draft
  • Duterte maintains disinterest in prolonged stay as President
  • Duterte does not want re-election under new charter
  • ConCom eyes vote for new federal gov't by 2019
  • Federal gov't leaders could be elected in 2019
  • Tayao: ConCom is conducting public consultations

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 9) — The Consultative Committee (ConCom) sets up the draft for a new Constitution — but Congress will still decide whether President Rodrigo Duterte can seek re-election.

Political analyst and ConCom member Ed Tayao told CNN Philippines' The Source on Monday that transitory provisions in the federal charter draft approved by the committee neither ban nor explicitly state anyone from running a second time.

"Yung transitory provisions kasi, ang magtatapos niyan, ang Kongreso later. Ang papel namin, gawin ang buong framework," Tayao said.

[Translation: It is Congress who will finish the transitory provisions later (on). Our role is to do the framework.]

"Perhaps what we can do is we'll be transmitting the draft (to Congress), and you wait for the exact wordings there," he added. "We can judge it from there."

Congress is occupied by a supermajority of Duterte's allies, who have already approved a resolution for a constituent assembly at the House of Representatives. The measure is still pending at the Senate.

Tayao's remarks come just ahead of the ConCom's scheduled presentation of the draft federal charter to the President on Monday afternoon.

 

Fears of an extended term rose after another ConCom member, political analyst Julio Teehankee, confirmed that the new charter draft allows Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo to run for their positions again under the new form of government.

Duterte is set to serve as President until 2022. Should he run and win again under a federal government, he will serve another four years. The proposal also allows re-election, which means he could possibly sit in office for a total of 14 years.

Under the present constitution, a president is not eligible for re-election.

But Duterte has expressed his inclination to retire by 2019, or at least help in transitory leadership until 2022. However, he had also publicly proclaimed he would not run for the presidency in 2016.

"Mapapapayag ba ang Presidente na magsilbi sa transitory leadership? Ang sagot po... Kung 'yan ay within 2022, yes. But if it is beyond 2022, definitely not," Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

[Translation: Will the President agree to transitory leadership? My answer is... if it falls within 2022, yes. But if it is beyond 2022, definitely not.]

Roque also maintained Duterte preferred that the new charter would not allow re-election for the incumbent president.

Rushed plebiscite?

Whatever Congress does is still set to be approved in a plebiscite — which the ConCom is targeting to hold before mid-term elections in May 2019, following the President's timeline.

This means that early next year, the public could vote on a new Constitution — and by the time May rolls around, a new head of state.

"Ang tinitingnan namin dito, pagka may plebisito bago mag-midterm election, yung darating na eleksyon, under the new Constitution na," said Tayao.

[Translation: What we are looking at is if there is a plebiscite before the midterm election, then the upcoming election will already be under the new Constitution.]

 

Given the tight schedule, another complaint that administration critics raised is the supposed lack of consultations with the Filipino people. In particular, they raised how the draft of the federal constitution was not made public.

Tayao said that four rounds of consultation were already made, and the ConCom plans to do more.

ConCom spokesperson Ding Generoso told CNN Philippines that they had public consultations attended by people from local government units, the academe, business, faith-based organizations, youth, indigenous peoples, farmers, and professionals.

He said that the schedule for the next consultation was still in the works, but those interested in participating should contact their local government units, the Department of Interior and Local Government, or the Presidential Management Staff.

"Puwede rin naman mag-organize sila ng sariling [They can also organize their own] forum and invite ConCom to make (a) presentation," Generoso added.

Another ConCom member and federalism advocate Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel, Jr. believed that public hearings should be held in far-flung provinces, and any constitutional assembly hearings should be open to media coverage.

The constituent assembly is another point of contention. The set-up allows legislators to convene and revise the Constitution, as opposed to a constitutional convention where representatives are elected for the explicit purpose of revising the charter.

Critics of the constituent assembly argue that lawmakers may have partisan or vested interests when drafting the new charter — and that includes possibly cancelling a controversial proposal to ban political dynasties.

They also point out that federalism — which gives more powers to regional states — could even further empower these political dynasties, hence the need for careful planning. Another concern with the proposed system is whether regions are economically sustainable without help from a national government.

For Tayao, the shift to federalism is not about readiness, now that Duterte has expressed a determination to see charter change through.

"It's not a question of readiness," he said. "It's a question of opportunity."

CNN Philippines intern Samantha Corrales contributed to this report.