Duterte-Marcos tandem? Palace says Duterte won't run as transition president

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — President Rodrigo Duterte will not run as transition president to oversee the country's shift to a federal form of government, his spokesperson said Thursday.

In a Malacañang press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied speculations Duterte wants to head the federal government — with former Senator Bongbong Marcos as his vice president.

"Kung gusto po ni Presidente na manatili sa posisyon hindi na niya sana hiningi sa consultative committee na maglagay ng transitory provisions na ang transition leader ay dapat ihalal," Roque said.

[Translation: If the President wanted to stay in power, he would not have asked the consultative committee to revise its transitory provisions to say that a transition leader should be elected."]

"It would have been easy for him to stay in office simply by hanging on to the office," Roque added.

At Duterte's request, the Consultative Committee (ConCom)'s proposed constitution now allows him to step down from his post to give way to an elected transition president after the new constitution is ratified.

The President had asked the 22-member panel to include this provision ending his term, after he rejected an earlier draft which had him leading the Federal Transition Commission.

Section 3, Article 22 of the revised draft states that "Within six (6) months from ratification of the Constitution, the President shall call for an election for the Transition President and Vice-President in tandem...Congress shall, by law, provide for the conduct of the election and appropriate funds for the purpose."

Reports quote former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. as saying that the ConCom's proposed charter does not bar Duterte from running as transition leader and choosing Marcos as his running mate.

Marcos, who lost to Vice President Leni Robredo in the 2016 polls, claims there was cheating and is seeking a vote recount.

The Palace also dismissed as nonsense allegations that the Duterte administration is using charter change to cut short Robredo's term.

"Wala pong katuturan yan. Malinaw naman po na hindi binibigyan masyado ng palasyo ng pansin naman ang karera ni Vice President," Roque said.

[Translation: "That's pure nonsense. It's clear that the Palace does not pay much attention to the Vice President's race."]

The ConCom's proposed constitution bans Duterte from running for reelection in the May 2022 national polls, but allows Robredo to vie for public office.

The shift to a federal form of government was among Duterte's campaign promises, aimed at providing more autonomy and faster development in the regions.  The Palace has repeatedly dismissed speculations that the President would use charter change to stay in power past the end of his term in 2022.