For Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the idea of prolonging his term beyond 2022 is “out of [the] question.”
Rather than extending his term, Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said that Duterte prefers to step down ahead of the expiration of his tenure should the push for a federal form of government succeeded.
“The president has no wish to extend his term,” Roque told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday, January 3.
“If the Constitution can be amended, to provide for federalism and to provide for provisions that would strengthen public accountability, he has said, he is willing to cut short his term. So the idea of prolonging his term is out of the question,” he added.
The Palace official made the statement in the wake of pronouncements made by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III that Duterte may extend his term beyond 2022 “if necessary” and “if he is amenable to it” during the country’s possible transition to federalism.
But even if extending the president’s term would be allowed in the new Constitution, Roque clarified that Duterte is already averse to the idea.
“[Duterte] has said it before. If we can amend the Constitution and provide for provisions that will minimize graft and corruption, he will even resign prior to the end of his term of office in 2022,” Roque stressed.
The Palace official also made it clear that midterm elections in 2019 will push through as mandated by the Constitution.
“The president is the chief implementor of the Constitution and the laws of the land, unless and until the Constitution is amended and ratified by the people, elections will push through in 2019,” he said.
Malacañang likewise assured the public that the upcoming 2019 midterm elections under the present 1987 Constitution will be “credible” and “honest.”
Earlier, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez floated the idea of the possible cancellation of midterm elections in 2019 if the proposed shift to federalism gets approved this year.
Noting that the senators have different term expirations, the House speaker also remarked that it is only practical to extend their terms until 2022 for a transitory period. He stressed, however, that the matter depends of the decision that will be made by the constituent assembly.
Concerning the possibility of prolonging Duterte’s term, Alvarez remarked that the president had already dismissed the idea.
“Malinaw po ang sinabi ng pangulo na yung kanyang termino mag-e-end (The president clearly stated that his term will end) on or before 2022,” Alvarez told DZMM in an interview on Thursday, January 4.