A UNIVERSITY of the Philippines professor Tuesday challenged proponents of federalism to include a provision that would prevent President Rodrigo Duterte from seeking a relection under a new form of government.
Speaking during the resumption of the Senate hearing on Charter Change, political science assistant professor Gene Lacza Pilapil said the new Constitution should bar Duterte from running for the same position to protect Philippine democracy.
Since federalism is beng sold by almost all its proponents supposedly fulfilling the need for sweeping changes to improve the country’s democracy, he challenged proponents of federalism from PDP-Laban to members of the House of Representatives and the Consultative Committee formed by Duterte to put their institutional design where the mouth was.
“Write down a provision banning the incumbent president to allay the valid fears of many Filipinos that this shift to federalism is part of the same script of the current president and his key allies to remain in power beyond his constitutionally mandated term limit under the 1987 Constitution,” said Pilapil.
He touted as good as his campaign promise to ride a jet ski to the Spratlys Duterte’s promise to step down in 2022 even if a federal constitution was passed.
“To make sure that in 2022 he does not tease the country for believing him in 2018 that he will step down once his term ends under the 1987 Constitution and not run again for president, institutionalize his promise to step down by constitutionally barring him to run in your proposed federal constitutions,” he said.
“Ban Duterte. Defend democracy,” Pilapil told the panel chaired by Senator Francis Pangilinan.
He noted that changing constitutions was a classic strategy of autocratic leaders elected in democracies but who later undermined their democracies.
The President has said the military and the police should shoot him, if he extends his term “even by just one day.”
He emphasized that the concern on presidential reelection became even more serious because the institutional design of the transitory provisions gave the incumbent president mind-boggling powers such as he becomes a one-man executive-legislative package.
Meanwhile. former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and nine other resource persons at the Senate public hearing on Charter change rejected the scenario of no elections in the course of amending or revising the Constitution.
“I do not support any move to defer the election set for May 2019,” said Pimentel, one of President Duterte’s 25-member consultative committee, in his position paper submitted to the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes headed by Pangilinan.
“A no-election scenario would unduly prolong the exercise of powers and privileges even of undeserving elective officials, and deprive those who may be more deserving of elective public offices from having the opportunity to seek the mandate of the people to serve them,” he added.
Pimentel, a long-time advocate of federalism, also disassociated himself from the federalism version of the party he founded, PDP-Laban.