Duterte wants public to elect transitional leader for federal gov't

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President Rodrigo Duterte.

President Rodrigo Duterte. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 10) — President Rodrigo Duterte wants the public to elect a leader who will oversee the country's transition to a federal form of government, once the proposed constitution that allows for the shift is passed.

Malacañang made this statement on Tuesday, clarifying what the President meant when he said he "instructed [the] Consultative Committee to elect a transitional President."

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing, "General elections ang iniisip ng ating Pangulo para dun sa magiging transitional leader natin (The President wants general election held to choose the transitional leader)." 

Duterte in effect wants the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to amend Section 1, Article XXII of the proposed charter, which states the sitting President will chair the Federal Transition Commission which must complete its mandate of transition by June 30, 2022.

Roque said the ConCom agreed to revise the transitory provisions to comply with the President's request for another leader to be elected instead. He said a supplemental budget may be passed for the elections to push through.

The 22-member ConCom is meeting on Tuesday to discuss Duterte's instructions. ConCom spokesperson Ding Generoso earlier said the President approved the rest of the draft constitution on Monday, the same day it was submitted to him.

Meanwhile, Roque reiterated the President's promise to step down from his post in 2019 if the proposed federal charter is approved by then. The President's remark comes amid speculation he will use the constitutional change to stay in power past the end of his term in 2022. Under the present Constitution, the President can serve for six years with no reelection, while the proposed charter gives the chief executive a term of four years with one chance for reelection.

The shift to a federal form of government was among Duterte's campaign promises, aimed at providing more autonomy and faster development in the regions. Duterte created the ConCom to review the 1987 Constitution and come up with proposals to implement the shift to federalism.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who heads the ConCom, hopes a plebiscite to approve the proposed charter will be held in the middle of next year, separate from the 2019 midterm elections, so the public can focus on its merits.

The Social Weather Stations survey for the first quarter of 2018 showed only 25 percent of Filipino adults have been aware of the federal system, while 75 percent only knew what it is upon answering the survey.