President Rodrigo Duterte greets Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo upon his arrival at the Rizal Park in Manila for his attendance to the 121st Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal's Martyrdom on December 30, 2017. Also in the photo is former President and incumbent Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada, who was convicted of plunder in 2007. Rey Baniquet/Presidential Photo

Duterte to cut short his term after shift to federalism
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) - January 3, 2018 - 8:34pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants to cut short his term after the country has shifted to a federal form of government and does not have to any plan to cling to power, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Wednesday.

According to Roque, the chief executive has "absolutely" no wish to extend his term which will last until 2022.

"In fact, he wishes it's already 2022," Roque said in a text message to Philstar.com.

READ: Federalism: What Filipinos need to know

Talks on a possible extension of Duterte's term swirled on Wednesday after Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said that the chief executive's six-year term could be lengthened if needed.

Pimentel, a stalwart of the ruling PDP-Laban just like the president, was quoted by media reports as saying that Duterte's term could be lengthened if it was necessary and the president was "amenable to it."

In a separate text message to Philstar.com, Pimentel clarified that there should not be any talk of term extension anymore since there would still be some years left to the president's term by the time federalism was adopted.

The Senate president said that should federalism be adopted this year the president would have three more years left, and these could be used as a "transitory period."

"If federalism is adopted this year (which is early!) then we have more than three years still left of the Duterte presidency. Hence, the president can use that as the transitory period. Hence, all the more there should be no need for any talk of term extension for the president," Pimentel said in the text message.

READ: Duterte: Filipinos not yet ready for federalism

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party, cast doubts if Congress could be trusted with charter change considering its record on its congressional hearings on extrajudicial killings, drugs smuggling at the Bureau of Customs and other issues.

"After witnessing the congressional hearings on extra-judicial killings, on Senator De Lima's alleged connection with drug syndicates, on the P6.4 billion BoC shabu smuggling scandal allegedly involving the Davao group, the impeachment of Chief Justice Sereno, the approval of the 1-year extension of martial law in Mindanao, the slashing of the CHR budget to P1,000, will you trust Congress with charter change?" Pangilinan said in a statement.

Last month, an opposition representative warned that Duterte's allies at the House were mulling the possibility of a two-year term extension for the president and five-year elongation for them.

Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna) said that under the plan the country would have a new Constitution with a federal system of government in 2019, leading to a cancellation of congressional elections in May of that year.

There would also be a five-year transition period, according to Zarate, giving lawmakers and Duterte term prolongation until 2024 when new elections under the new Constitution would be held.

The president meanwhile has repeatedly said that he was willing to step down before 2022 if the nation shifted to a federal form of government.

READ: Duterte says nationwide martial law is 'on the table'

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