Duterte says not seeking to change constitution to stay longer in office
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected claims that he and his allies are seeking a way for him to stay in office beyond his current term.
Duterte told soldiers during an army base visit Monday that they would be allowed to gun him down if he wanted to become a “dictator” by remaining in office beyond 2022, when his single term ends.
“If I overstay and wanted to become a dictator, shoot me, I am not joking,” said Duterte, adding, “It is your job to protect the constitution and to protect the people. Remember, it is your solemn duty.”
Duterte said security forces in the Philippines had in fact a job to prevent people from messing up with the constitution.
Reports of Duterte’s plan to extend his rule came last week when his allies in the lower house of parliament voted to convene a constituent assembly to revise the Philippines’ constitution by May. The vote also endorsed plans for scrapping mid-term elections next year and extending the terms of all elected officials.
Duterte’s opponents say he and his allies are desperately seeking a way to prolong their stay in power beyond their terms. They fear Duterte, who is known for his authoritarian traits, could slide the Philippines into another era of dictatorial rule like that of Ferdinand Marcos.
Duterte never hides his wishes for having a new federal system in the Philippines to better fight poverty and inequality and empower provinces, saying that would be to the benefit of the diverse makeup of the Southeast Asian country.