Pimentel says Duterte's term may be extended 'if necessary'

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said the 6-year term of President Rodrigo Duterte may be extended “if necessary” during the country's transition to federalism.

Pimentel, party mate and staunch ally of Duterte, said this on Wednesday, January 3, when asked if he would allow the extension of the President’s term under the proposed change of government form.

“Depends on the transitory provisions. And depends too on when we approve the new Constitution. If 2019, then the next 3 years will be the transitory period,” Pimentel told reporters in a text message.

“We can extend the President's term 1. if really necessary, and 2. if he is amenable to it, and 3. since that extension will be part of the new Constitution, the new Constitution is approved by the people themselves,” he added.

Asked if term extension is one of the goals of Charter change and the shift to federalism, Pimentel only said: “The objective is federalism. That’s all.”

The 1987 Constitution mandates a 6-year single term for presidents. Under Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution, "No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time."

Duterte’s term is set to end in 2022.

Pimentel also opposed speculations of a no-election scenario in 2019 if the proposed shift to federalism gets approved this year. This came after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Congress could convene this January to discuss the proposal and present the issue to the public via a referendum in May. (READ: Alvarez open to cancelation of 2019 polls during transition to federalism)

“What is important are the transitory provisions which will govern the terms and duties of those elected in the last election under the 1987 Constitution. We can shift to federalism and allow all scheduled elections under the existing constitution to go on and be held,” Pimentel said.

“Before we can operate under a new Constitution, the provisions of the existing Constitution must be followed. Hence, if there are scheduled elections under the existing Constitution, then this must be followed,” he added. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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