No term extension for Duterte under new charter: Puno

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2018 12:02 PM | Updated as of Jun 21 2018 07:32 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the 120th Philippine Independence Day celebration in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 2018. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte will enjoy no term extension during the shift to a federalism system of government, the head of his charter review group said Thursday.

The same prohibition will apply to Vice President Leni Robredo, said former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who noted elections under the new federal constitution would be held in May 2022.

Puno, chairman of Duterte’s consultative committee, said the president would be the “first casualty” of a proposed ban on political dynasties since he could not be succeeded by a relative within the second civil degree of affinity and consanguinity.

“Let us therefore diminish the unfounded thought that this move to change the 1987 Constitution is a mere sophisticated ploy to prolong the term of the president,” Puno said in a lawyers’ forum in Manila.

But Puno did not say whether the 6-year terms of senators to be elected next year would be cut short because of the transition.

How a reduced term for the new batch of senators would affect the chances of a federal shift in the upper chamber remains to be seen.

The committee’s proposed federal constitution will still go through legislators, who will do the actual drafting while sitting as a constituent assembly. 

TRANSITION

At least two committee members earlier told ABS-CBN News that some House leaders had been pushing for a term extension and a postponement of next year’s mid-term elections.

Under the committee’s proposal, Duterte will lead a 10-man transitory commission to “handle the effective and efficient transition toward a federal government.”

Members will include experts in law, fiscal management, economy, and governance. 

All living presidents, Puno said, would be consulted by the transition committee to “symbolize our unity and harmony in this new beginning.”

Puno said the transition would not be “open-ended” and the president-led committee would have to finish its work by June 30, 2022.

The committee will have the power to “promulgate rules and regulations, orders, decrees, proclamations, and other issuances” to implement the transition plan, he said.

Puno said the committee would also be tasked to “resolve all issues and disputes that may arise” during the transition.

It will organize the federal government and those of the federated regions under the new constitution, he said.

The consultative committee is eyeing 18 federated regions, but with the possibility of areas “opting in” or “opting out” later on.