If the House would insist on a transitory government in its push for federalism, then they would have to look for another leader, Malacañang said, as President Rodrigo Duterte is not interested in extending his term.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press briefing in Cebu City, said that Duterte has been expressing that, if possible, he will cut his term short.
“The President has said that he wishes to finish his term. He wants to cut short his term, he does not intend to lengthen his term,” he said. “So if his party-mates would insist on a transitory provision that will require the President to serve longer, the President has said that he is not interested. They may have to ask another person in the government for that.”
Malacañang earlier said that the shift to a federal form of government is the only thing that remains unfulfilled among the five campaign promises Duterte made during the 2016 elections.
Roque earlier addressed concerns of a dictatorship under a federal form of government after Duterte’s political rivals claimed that the President is ‘trying to pull a Marcos’ by conditioning the minds of the public.
“The President has no wish to extend his term and has said that, on the contrary, he is open to shortening it if and when constitution is amended,” Roque said in a text message.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar also earlier assured that there will be no dictatorship if the country shifts to a federal government.
“Kitang-kita naman natin sa body language, mga sinasabi mismo ni Presidente literally na number one na talagang hindi niya ginustong maging Pangulo ng bansa. Number two, kung maipasa na iyong federalism ay handa na siyang bumaba sa puwesto (Firstly, it’s obvious in his body language … in his words… that Duterte never really wanted to become the President of this country. Secondly, he also said that he is ready to step down once the law is passed),” Andanar said.
“Paulit-ulit sinasabi iyan ni Presidente Duterte at ako ay naniniwala na talagang gagawin niya iyon. Bababa siya sa puwesto once na ang federalism ay ma-implement na sa bansa natin (He has been saying that repeatedly and I believe he will really step down once federalism is implemented in the country),” he added.
Duterte has been pushing for a federal system since the campaign period last year as he deemed it as the only solution to the peace problem in Mindanao.
He also expressed willingness to step down from position, even before his six-year term expires, if the federal system is adopted.