Duterte to quit in 3 years if federalism begins

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, October 29, stressed that he can resign as early as 3 years from now if the Philippines has already shifted to a federal form of government. 

Referring to the shift to federalism, Duterte said, "'Pag natapos 'yan nang 3 taon, asahan ninyo, I give you my word, 'pag nandiyan na 'yang framework, I will resign to give way to a new president. Wala na kayong iisipin pa."

(If that is finished in 3 years, you can count on it, I give you my word, if the framework is already there, I will resign to give way to a new president. You'll have nothing more to think of.)

He added, in reference to the 6-year term of Philippine presidents: "Basta ako sana mismo ang magsabi, alis na ako. Hindi ako maghintay ng 6 years. Just hurry up the process (I myself will say it: I will go. I will no longer wait for 6 years. Just hurry up the process)."

Duterte made this statement at the launch of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and other Conflict Areas in Regions IX, X, and XII.

Federalism is a form of government that gives more power to the regions, such as those in Mindanao, as opposed to the unitary form of government that concentrates power in Metro Manila.

Under federalism, regions will become autonomous states with control over its budget. The national government, in turn, will retain control over aspects of national interest, such as foreign affairs. (READ: Will federalism address PH woes? Pros and cons of making the shift)

'Trojan horse for other agenda'?

In July, Duterte already made a similar offer to resign if the Philippines has shifted to a federal form of government. 

Lawyer Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, however, questioned the push for federalism in the Philippines under Duterte’s watch. 

Referring to Duterte, Monsod said in a recent forum: "He is in a hurry to make far-reaching structural changes in our Constitution by exploiting his high approval rating and asking the people to trust him totally on this urgency and scope, the full range of which he has not even disclosed." 

He said: "This is dangerous demagoguery, and raises the question: Is federalism also a Trojan horse for other agenda? It is time for us to think more deeply about our future."

For Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Congress should first pass the stalled Bangsamoro Basic Law before shifting to a federal system.

"The prospective Bangsamoro government shall serve as template of a Philippine federal state," Ebrahim said. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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