Monday, October 31, 2016

Duterte wants ‘out,’ wants Charter change hurried Duterte wants ‘out,’ wants Charter change hurried

By Raynan F. Javil

Duterte wants ‘out,’ wants Charter change hurried

Posted on October 31, 2016

THE Speaker of the House of Representatives said his chamber will meet its original target date of 2019 to come up with a draft Constitution, in time for its submission to a plebiscite along with the midterm elections that year.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself had urged Congress to “hurry up the process” in his expressed wish to step down early ahead of his six-year term.

“Yes. We’ll do it,” Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez said in a text message. Asked if the House was on track to meet its target date, Mr. Alvarez said: “Yes.”

To be sure, an executive order (EO), as also recommended by Mr. Alvarez, has yet to be issued seeking to establish a 25-man constitutional commission tasked with writing a draft Charter for subsequent deliberation in Congress.

Mr. Alvarez said he “will check” on the status of the EO, which has been forwarded to the Palace in late August and is pending with the Office of the Executive Secretary.

In a speech in Cotabato City on Oct. 29, Mr. Duterte said: “Kapag natapos iyan ng tatlong taon (When this is completed in three years), asahan ninyo, I give you my word: Kapag nandiyan na ’yang framework (When the framework is there), I will resign to give way to a new President. Wala na kayong isipin pa (You have nothing more to think of).”

Ako na sana mismo ang magsabi alis na ako. Hindi ako maghintay ng six years (Let me be the one to say that I want out. I won’t wait for six years),” he also said.

“Just hurry up the process. Kapag nandiyan na ’yang federal, tapos paghati-hatiin na ’yung region, federal region ganun, at more power iyan sa baba less power doon sa itaas at kayo na ang bahala kung ano ang nakita ninyo dito (Once the federal [system] is in place, the regions will be carved up into federal regions, and there will be more power below and less power in high [office], it’s up to you what you’ll see here),” he added.

The drive toward federalism is in keeping with Mr. Duterte’s election-campaign platform early this year to have the country decentralized.

Mr. Alvarez had earlier said he hoped the EO would be signed by September, after which the constitutional commission would have been formed in October.

The House targets the last three years of Mr. Duterte’s administration as a transition period toward federalism. The general election scheduled in 2022 will be held under the new Charter, if approved in a plebiscite.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments has already passed a resolution calling for Congress to convene itself into a constituent assembly and has formed a technical working group to consolidate related resolutions in the House.

Besides constituent assembly and people’s initiative, the other mode provided by the 1987 Constitution for revising the charter is the holding of a constitutional convention. But Mr. Duterte had set aside that plan because of its estimated cost of P7 to P8 billion.

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