ConCom agrees to include poll for transition president in proposed charter

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 10) — The Consultative Committee tasked to Review the 1987 Constitution has agreed to President Rodrigo Duterte's request to include a provision in the proposed Federal Constitution that would allow for the election of a transition president.

"We shall be electing as per his suggestion a transition president," ConCom chair and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno said Tuesday.

"Kung ang powers lang niya to effectuate the transition and then he will not be exercising the parts of the president, sino commander-in-chief? So he will be exercising powers of the president," he added.

The move would allow Duterte to step down once the new Constitution is approved in a plebiscite.

This comes a day after the President received a copy of the draft proposal of the Federal Constitution, and stated that he is tired and wanted a younger leader to lead the country's transition.

The ConCom also included a provision where the incumbent Vice President, Leni Robredo, must also vacate her post, to be replaced by an elected transition vice president.

"Kasi kung presidente lang ie-elect mo, kung nadisgrasya presidente, sino magiging successor niya? Kailangan may vice president," Puno said.

The transitory president and vice president will lead the shift to federalism, and will hold office until 2022-when the transition ends.

The election will take place around six months after the approval of the new Constitution through a plebiscite, giving the Commission on Elections time to prepare for the elections and the candidates to campaign.

Puno said anyone who fits the qualifications, even Robredo, may run for the position of transition president or vice president.

He added, however, the transitory president and vice president cannot run in the 2022 elections, the first election that will be held under the new Federal Constitution.

All officials appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte will also vacate their posts to give way to the appointees of the new president.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry 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.