Duterte not resigning, not tired, after all!

POSTSCRIPT - Federico D. Pascual Jr. - The Philippine Star

ONE of the pitfalls of writing under a deadline is that sometimes we quote the President of the Republic on something momentous, only to be told later that he had made a backflip and changed his mind, again.

So we rush to our laptops and rewrite our previous reports before they are inflicted on a hapless public. That could be unnerving for those of us who put too much faith in the word of the President, but we learn in time.

It sounds silly, but we reiterate an old proposal that – if only to minimize confusion – anything of utmost importance that the President says must be made in writing and under oath.

With a glum face, presidential spokesman Harry Roque informed the media Monday that the Boss wanted to resign and turn over the reins to somebody younger. Reason given: The 73-year-old president was tired.

With his popularity rating and almost everything else falling – including the economic indicators that his handlers have hinted might be omitted in his coming State of the Nation Address – even one made of sterner stuff would be worn out.

That was the nth time Duterte said the same thing about wanting to quit, and that should have lessened its newsworthiness. There have been times, however, when we sensed like he meant it.

But then, again, he must be haunted by the problem of how to dismount the tiger without being devoured by the beast. The laws of karma are more exacting than the Kill! Kill! Kill! frenzy of his bloody regime.

When Roque announced the desire of Duterte to resign next year, at the midpoint of his term, we also happened to be too tired to question the startling turn of events.

 Quickly, we said on Twitter: “He wants out? No problem. All he has to do is resign.”

Resignation is one of the choices laid out in the Constitution for a president who wants to, or has to, go. The modes enumerated in Section 8 of Article VII (Executive Department) are death, permanent disability, removal from office (impeachment), and resignation. Note that fatigue is not included.

There is another way, although it is extra-constitutional, and this is to be forcibly ousted, as in the 1986 EDSA Revolt that sent the then Dictator, tubes and all, scampering to Hawaii.

After the announcement Monday of his intention to resign, we strained to hear the distant roar of 16 million diehards begging Tatay Digong to stay. We wondered why we did not hear it. Maybe they missed their cue?

I may not be a camp follower myself, but I, huh, want Duterte to be given more time to fix himself and the mess the country is in.

The reason why I want to give him a little more time (or more rope, depending on one’s bias) is that I have not spotted yet anyone on the horizon who could galvanize the people into rejecting a regime whose simplistic solution to any human problem is to literally “trouble-shoot” it.

• He missed the legal, political implications?

OUR GUESS is that after the President informed the Cabinet of his being tired and wanting to resign, and after his ventriloquist tossed that line to media, his coterie explained to him the folly of dropping the ball at this crucial point of the game.

His “resignation” was in the context of a federal constitution being approved by the Congress assembled as a constituent assembly and ratified in a plebiscite, and of a transition wherein he as President would head a committee bridging the gap to a federal tomorrow.

He had been bludgeoned with accusations of plotting to grab executive and legislative functions in the transition and to manipulate the process to enable himself to stay in power for two more successive terms under the new setup.

He told the Cabinet he was resigning to disabuse the public mind of a scenario building up of a Duterte autocratic rule leading to the federal system. With that, he said he would rather turn over the reins to a “younger” president in the transition.

The Mayor may not be a hotshot lawyer (by his own admission), but he must know that even after his having captured virtually all supposedly independent branches of government, he cannot just hand over the reins to a replacement of his choice.

Before the adoption of the federal system (if it is adopted at all), the Constitution under which he was elected for a six-year term will still be operating. All his acts as president must conform with the 1987 Charter.

If Duterte resigns before a new federal constitution is in place, the Vice President – who happens to be Leni Robredo – will become president. She is younger (and prettier) but her ascension to power will jolt Duterte loyalists, including Bongbong Marcos who is contesting her election.

In a revelation that the committee which wrote the federal constitution is taking orders from Duterte, the body quickly edited its draft to incorporate his idea for a transition president to be elected instead of him.

Complying with Duterte’s after-thought, the committee headed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno will have to do substantial revision of its labor of love as it would look odd having a transition president without a corresponding vice president as a “spare tire.”

This bring us back to our fear expressed here last Sunday: What Duterte wants done will be done! The only force that can stop him is Divine Intervention or a Mass Upheaval, both of which seem unlikely at the moment. https://tinyurl.com/y9qlaq9e

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ADVISORY: All Postscripts can be accessed at manilamail.com. Follow author on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com

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