Con-Com hopes Duterte won't quit before transition to federal government
MANILA, Philippines – As it wraps up its operations, the Consultative Committee (Con-Com) has one last request to President Rodrigo Duterte – for him to resign only after the formation of a transition commission to ensure a smooth shift to a federal system of government.
"It would be better if we finish this, then during the transition, with the proposal to elect within 6 months a transition president. And then that's the only time he turns over the reins of government to whoever will be elected transition president," said Con-Com spokesman Ding Generoso on Friday, August 17.
"We're hoping sana maitawid ito hanggang doon sa mabuo 'yung transition commission (he can bring this until the formation of the transition commission)," he added.
In the Con-Com's draft charter, the incumbent president calls for the election of a transition president and transition vice president within 6 months after the charter is ratified. The transition president will supervise the transition from the present unitary system to federal system.
The Con-Com, the 22-member group formed by Duterte to amend the 1987 Constitution, will cease to exist on August 19 – or 6 months from their first formal meeting as a committee on February 19.
Their draft federal constitution has been submitted to Duterte and both houses of Congress. But with Duterte's insistence that he is ready to step down, the Con-Com fears the campaign for federalism will lose its powerful ally.
"It is a big factor that no less than the President is pushing for it, that’s the biggest factor now...This has never happened in the past. This is the best chance we’ve got in 120 years to overhaul the system," said Generoso, himself a long-time federalism advocate.
Duterte, a champion of federalism since his days as Davao City mayor, made the shift to federalism one of his major campaign promises when he ran for president in 2016.
As a long-time Mindanao local leader, Duterte went around the country saying federalism would empower regions and spread out wealth and resources, previously concentrated in Metro Manila.
Duterte formed the Con-Com precisely to get the ball rolling on a draft federal charter. But Duterte's recent remarks about quitting threaten to stop the momentum on charter change he had sparked.
On Tuesday, August 14, Duterte said he would quit if the "right" successor is ready to take his place in Malacañang. He also expressed openness to a military junta taking over, even saying he would swear in the general who wishes to lead the country.
Con-Com chairman Reynato Puno had originally hoped for a mid-2019 plebiscite on a new charter but this now seems less likely to happen with both leaders of the House and Senate saying they have other priorities, not least of which is the midterm elections. – Rappler.com