Extension of Duterte’s term will also extend Leni’s term
Any extension of the present term of office of President Duterte and the lawmakers will also benefit Vice President Leni Robredo as her term will likewise be extended. The idea being floated by administration allies to extend Mr. Duterte’s term cannot be a one-sided affair solely for their own benefit.
What is sauce for the gander should also be sauce for the goose, as the saying goes. Thus, if they extend the term of office of Mr. Duterte by amending the Constitution and shifting to a federal form of government, there should also be a corresponding provision that the term of office of Vice President Robredo is automatically extended. For sure, Mr. Duterte would not agree to any such amendment or revision of the Constitution that is obviously too discriminatory and one-sided, if not totally self-serving and inequitable. More so with the statement of Mr. Duterte that he will resign once we shifted to a federal form of government.
The said extension of the terms of office of the president, vice president and lawmakers could be provided in the transitory provision of the amended constitution canceling the 2019 midterm elections and providing for the period and manner of electing the president and the vice president.
A federal form of government may have a president and a vice president directly elected by the people just like the federal form of government of the United States.
However, it would not be that easy to amend the Constitution. While Congress intends to do it through a constitutional assembly where its two chambers would convene themselves and propose the said amendments, it would take time before these amendments could be finalized and submitted to the people for ratification in a plebiscite. If the plebiscite is held simultaneous with the 2019 elections, then it is obvious that next year’s polls will have to be held. If a plebiscite is planned to be held before the 2019 elections, Congress will not have sufficient time to finalize the amendment and inform the people thereof.
Furthermore, it appears that our people are not fully aware of the mechanics and benefits of a federal form of government. As of now, they are not ready for this sudden change in the form of our government. In other words, a great majority of our people do not understand what this is all about.
But the problem in our country is not the form of government but the people running our government. And it is good that President Duterte is taking a serious stand in terminating the services of government officials he finds unfit for public service through his “one whiff, you’re out” policy and his firm resolve and stand to eradicate corruption in government.
(Disclaimer: I am making this statement not as the lawyer of Vice President Robredo but solely as my own personal opinion on the issue. I have not consulted the Vice President before, during and after making this statement and that she is totally unaware that I would be writing this.)
ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, election lawyer, Las Pinas City
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