Duterte 'not interested' in extending presidency, says spokesman

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2020 02:45 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte joins a video conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, June 26, 2020. Albert Alcain, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte is "not interested" in extending his term of office, Malacañang said Monday after a proposal to suspend the 2022 elections due to virus fears drew criticism from both allies and critics of the chief executive.

Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo's suggestion to consider postponing the next elections, saying voters are afraid of contracting coronavirus, is not an option for Malacañang given the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said.

"The President is not interested in extending his term. And he leaves it to the Filipino people, the sovereign people, to decide if they want to amend the Constitution to postpone the elections," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

"It can never be an option for Malacañang, unless the Constitution is amended," he added, referring to the suspension of the elections.

Under the 1987 Philippine charter, the presidential and vice presidential elections should be held every second Monday of May, every six years after May 1992.

Commission on Elections Chairman Sheriff Abas said Monday the poll body is not looking at suspending the 2022 national polls, which would see the rise to power of Duterte's successor.

"On the part of Comelec, wala sa plano namin yung postponement," Abas said in a virtual press briefing.

Roque said what the country could consider is changing the way elections are conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Under the new normal, under the situation, mukhang ang magbabago ay yung paraan paano mangampanya, pero patuloy po ang eleksyon," he said.

(What could change is the way the elections are conducted, and the way campaigns are done, but the elections will continue.)