SENATE President Aquilino Pimentel III yesterday said that the six-year term of President Rodrigo Duterte may be extended if the proposed federalism pushes through and if he is amenable to stay longer in office.
Pimentel said the President’s term may be extended “if really necessary” during the “transitory period” under the shift to the federal form of government.
“We can extend the President’s term if really necessary, and if he is amenable to it, and since that extension will be part of the new Constitution, the new Constitution is approved by the people themselves,” said Pimentel, president of the ruling party PDP-Laban which Duterte heads as chairman..
Duterte’s six-year term will end in 2022.
But Minority Leader Franklin Drilon of the Liberal Party, vowed to oppose the “immoral proposition.”
“The cat is out of the bag! At least, the real purpose of federalism is out — term extension! LP will oppose such immoral proposition,” said Drilon.
Pimentel, however, clarified that the objective of Charter Change was not to extend Duterte’s term.
“The objective is federalism. That’s all,” he said.
The Senate leader added that the term extension would still depend on the transitory provisions, which will dictate the terms and duties of those elected in the last elections.
“And depends too on when we approve the new Constitution. If 2019, then the next three years will be the transitory period,” Pimentel explained.
He also addressed speculations of a no-election (no-el) scenario in 2019 if the proposed shift to federalism succeeds this year.
Earlier, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Congress can convene this January to tackle the proposal and submit the issue to the public through a referendum in May this year.
Pimentel dismissed the possibility of a no-election scenario next year.
“We can shift to federalism and allow all scheduled elections under the existing constitution to go on and be held,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Alvarez, who sits as secretary general of PDP-Laban, said a no-election scenario is possible in the 2019 midterm polls if the shift to a federal form of government pushes through this year.