MAWAB, Compostela Valley (MindaNews / 22 January) — President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his troops on Monday to shoot him if he exceeds his term even by one day.
“Ako sinasabi ko sa inyo ngayon, pag ako sumobra sa aking termino, isang araw lang (I am telling you now, if I exceed my term by one day), I am now asking the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP (Philippine National Police) not to allow me or anybody else to mess up with the Constitution,” he told his troops at the launch of “TienDA para sa mga Bayani,” at the 10th Infantry Division’s Camp General Manuel Yan here.
Duterte’s six-year term ends on June 30, 2022.
He said the soldiers’ work is “to protect the Constitution, and to protect the people. Remember it as a solemn duty.”
“Kaya ako ‘pag sumobra, gusto kong mag-diktador, barilin ninyo ako. Hindi ako nagbobola. Dalhin mo ‘yung mga green tip mo, ubusin mo doon sa — kung saan ako nakatindig. Hindi ako nagbibi…” (So if I want to be a dictator, shoot me. I am not joking. Bring your green tip and finish it up where I am standing. I am not joking), Duterte said.
“There will be no suspension of elections and there will be no term extension especially for me,” Duterte, also chair of the ruling Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) told MindaNews on January 12.
Duterte was then reacting to pronouncements of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr. of a possible no-elections in May 2019 scenario and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel’s possible term extension for President Duterte beyond 2022 “if really necessary”
Alvarez, the party’s Secretary-General spoke of no-election (no-el) scenario in 2019 and expressed hope the plebiscite on Constitutional amendments will be held simultaneous with the barangay elections on May 14 this year.
Pimentel III, the party’s President, on the other hand said next year’s mid-term polls will push through as scheduled on May 13, 2019 but noted the term of office of the President can be extended beyond 2022 “if really necessary” in the transition to federalism.
On January 16, the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments’ sub-committees presented their proposals on the shift to federalism, involving no elections in 2019. The proposal said incumbent representatives and senators will have their terms extended until 2022 as members of the Interim Parliament during the transition period to a federal system of government.
The term of office of the incumbent representatives and half of the 24-member Senate is supposed to end on June 30, 2019.
The House plenary also passed a resolution to convene as a constituent assembly (ConAss) to amend the 1987 Constitution.
A day later, on January 17, the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments listened to experts on Constitutional Law, most of whom said the best way to amend the Constitution is through a Constitutional Convention (ConCon), Duterte’s campaign promise.
The resource persons, among them two former Chief Justices – Hilario Davide and Reynato Puno and former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III – also said the two houses of Congress must vote separately and not jointly as the House majority thinks the voting should be.
The elder Pimentel, a member of the 1971 Constitution and father of the incumbent Senate President and founder of the PDP-Laban — the political party that boasts of a “super majority” in the House of Representatives.
Pimentel urged the public “never to allow any super majority to trample on our rights to speak out” as he reiterated his opposition to a no-election scenario in 2019.
“We must never allow any super majority to trample on our rights to speak out,” the 84-year Pimentel said.
He also urged members of the minority not to be silenced and to stand up to the majority.
“How can it (House) set aside something guaranteed by the Constitution?” Pimentel asked at the Senate, as he criticized the lower house’s plan to “adopt federal system pero no election muna?”
“The end does not justify the means. Hindi pupuwede na sabihin mo yun just to achieve a supposedly good purpose. Good intention will be submerged into a mesh of nonsense being advocated today,” Pimentel said, drawing cheers and applause as he added, “while we are still free, speak out! Kelan ka magsalita? Kung hindi na pwede?” (When will you speak out? If it’s no longer possible?)
The House last week insisted it would convene as a Constituent Assembly even without the Senate’s participation. Alvarez claimed the Constitution did not say the House and Senate should vote separately but jointly.
Duterte on December 7, 2016 issued Executive Order 10 creating a 25-member Consultative Committee (ConCom) that would “study, conduct consultations, and review the provisions of the 1987 Constitution including but not limited to the provisions on the structure and powers of the government, local governance, and economic policies,” submit their recommendations to the President and the President would submit it to Congress.
Thirteen months later, Duterte has yet to name members of the ConCom. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)