Duterte wants 2019 elections to push through — Roque

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Duterte wants 2019 elections to push through â Roque
President Rodrigo Duterte waves farewell to the send-off party at the Bunga Raya Airport before boarding a plane back to the Philippines following his working visit in Malaysia on July 16, 2018 on which he watched the fight of Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao and held a meeting with the Malaysian prime minister.
Presidential photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will not be involved in efforts to postpone the elections slated for next year, according to the Palace, as it thumbed down speculations that the chief executive might run with former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos for the leadership of a transition government.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque stressed that Duterte's position had been to push through with the midterm polls next year and hold the referendum on the proposed federal charter together with the electoral execise.

"I will not have any hand in that," Roque answered when asked about this amid efforts by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to postpone next year's elections to supposedly give Congress enough time to deliberate on the proposed constitution.

"He believes in democracy, he believes in elections, and he wants to hold the referendum together with the elections. That is the position of the president," he added.

It was however unclear if the chief executive would order the speaker to stop the floating the idea of no elections.

Alvarez recently said that without a postponement of the 2019 polls Congress would not have time to discuss moves to shift to federalism.

He said that Congress would be busy with the budget later this year, and with elections in May lawmakers would be on campaign mode by the start of 2018.

The speaker also suggested that instead of appointing new officials the term of office of incumbent officers should just be extended.

Roque also denied that Duterte would run, in tandem with losing vice presidential candidate Marcos, to be the transition government leader.

The president's spokesman explained that if Duterte wanted to stay in office, all he had to do was to remain in power until 2022.

"If the president wants to stay in power, he would not have asked the consultative committee to put a transitory provision that the transition leader should be elected. It would have been easy to stay in office by simply hanging on to the office because the original transitory provision provided that he will be the transition leader," Roque said in response to the statement from former Chief Justice Hilario Davide on Wednesday.

Davide, speaking on ANC, said that Duterte would run as the transition government's leader as the draft federal charter did not bar him from doing so.

He said that the provision for the election of transition leader was inserted belatedly to contain the outcry over the consultative's committee original proposal to make the chief executive the transition government's president.

Davide also said that since the president and the vice president should be elected in tandem, this could pave the way for the election of Marcos as vice president.

He said he was sure that Duterte would run and win the elections.

When asked about this, Roque said, "That cannot happen because if the president wanted to stay in power he would not have asked for that transitory provision. The truth is it's enough for the president to have federalism as his legacy. He had already done what he wanted to do if we will have a charter change paving the way for federalism."

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