MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he will offer to resign as president if Congress is able to fast-track the shift to a federal form of government, one of his main advocacies.
“If they can shorten the proceedings, you have a Constitution that is federal in 2 or 3 years, then you have to elect a president. Of course, that would automatically legally [mean] hindi na ako p'wede (I will have to be replaced), so I will offer to resign,” he said on Wednesday night, July 27, during an event with the League of Cities and Provinces.
For the Philippines to become federal, the Constitution would have to be amended, and which would mean the election of leaders for the new form of government. (READ: Federalism in PH: 81 senators, 11 federal states?)
Duterte previously said that the shift to federalism, being a complex process, may not happen during his term. But if Congress is able to speed up the process, he may need to step down to make way for the new government.
“Two [years], if you have the federal setup, I will resign as president. Three years, sibat ako (I will leave). Four years, ay salamat (thank you),” he said.
Duterte repeated his regret over running for president, saying his only source of motivation is “love for my country.”
“Ako, nagtratrabaho ako. (Me, I'm doing my job). Do not feel short-changed. My will to work is there, but if you ask me if I am happy, I am not,” said the President.
Duterte has been pushing for the Philippines to go federal, believing it would give regions more control over their resources and more independence in making decisions over local concerns.
In a federal set-up, regions will become autonomous states with more control on their economy, education, health, infrastructure, natural resources, and more. The national or federal government would only retain control over aspects of national interest, like foreign affairs and national security. (READ: Will federalism address PH woes? Pros and cons of making the shift)
Critics of federalism however say the setup will only further empower political dynasties and add levels of bureaucracy.
In Congress, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez support the shift to federalism. The two are party mates of Duterte under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, a party that has long pushed for federalism. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.