July 22, 2018, 9:18 pm
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ConCom: Robredo must leave with Duterte

PRESIDENT Duterte has said he wants to leave the presidency once a new constitution, which provides for a shift to a federal government, takes effect.

But here’s the catch: Vice President Leni Robredo must leave with him.

Former chief justice Reynato Puno, chairman of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) which has drafted the proposed new constitution, said the ConCom is looking at cutting short the terms of Duterte and Robredo once the amendments to the 1987 Constitution are approved by the people in a referendum.

Puno said the ConCom has approved in principle Duterte’s directive to include a provision in the draft charter that would allow for him to step down, and for the public to elect a “transition president” as soon as the new constitution takes effect.

Duterte has said he is tired and wants a younger leader to take over.

Duterte, in a chance interview at the sidelines of the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Summit 2018 in Pampanga, reiterated that he is willing to step down ahead of his term but he would not agree to a succession. He said he prefers that a transition president be elected.

He said he is not imposing the cutting short of terms of office on other officials, whose mandates end in June 30, 2022, but leave it to Congress to thresh out the details.

Duterte also said he considers Robredo “incompetent” and unable to lead the country.

The ConCom was hoping to have the draft Constitution passed and ratified by 2019 to pave the way for the election of the new officials under a new Constitution and a federal government by 2022.

Puno said, as suggested by the President, the ConCom would include a provision allowing the election of a transition president and vice president, who shall “preside in the transition period.”  The president and vice president shall be elected in tandem.

He said the transition president shall exercise all the powers of a sitting president but would have a short term - serving only from the time the new Constitution is ratified until the regular elections in May 2022.

Puno said the transition president will also be ineligible to run in the 2022 elections.

‘A TRAP!’

Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV branded Duterte’s promise to shorten his term as “a trap.”

“That is a trap! We should not allow ourselves to be fooled again by Duterte’s promises,” Trillanes said, citing the President’s campaign promise to resign in three to six months if he could not solve the problems on illegal drugs and corruption.

He said the President just wants to fool and trap senators into approving Charter change and perpetuate himself into power beyond 2022.

“Now, if he really wants to resign because according to him, he is already tired, he should resign without drama and condition,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he would base his decision on Charter change on what should serve best the interest of future generations.

“The proposed draft charter is not about one person, or for those opposing and supporting it. Neither is it about us in this present generation,” Lacson said in a statement.

At the House of Representatives, majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas said there is no target date to approve the ConCom proposal since it has not even reached the House.

Rep. Edgar Erice (LP, Caloocan City), a member of the seven-man opposition bloc at the House, said the ConCom’s draft Federal constitution’s good provisions will be “mangled” by Congress once it sits as a constituent assembly (con-ass) to introduce amendments to the Constitution.

Erice said the ConCom’s proposed anti-pork barrel and anti-dynasty provisions have no chance at all since personal interest will surely prevail in a con-ass.

“Even the bicam (bicameral panels) on the (proposed) BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) rejected the anti-politics dynasty provision. It’s the politicians’ interest over other consideration so we might as well go through a con-con (Constitutional Convention) to ensure a well-meaning
charter,” he said.

Rep. Gary Alejano (PL, Magdalo) said with the government’s weak record of implementing laws, there is a huge possibility that the proposed shift to federalism will suffer the same fate as Republic Act 7160 (The Local Government Code of the Philippines), which has not been reviewed after 27 years and has not been fully implemented, and R.A. 9054 (Organic Act for the Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao), “which was considered a failed experiment which necessitates the passage of BBL.” – With JP Lopez and Wendell Vigilia
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