Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte will not be involved in efforts to postpone the elections slated for next year.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that Duterte’s position had been to continue with the midterm polls next year and hold the referendum on the proposed federal charter together with the electoral exercise.
“I will quote the president, ‘I will not have any hand in that,’” Roque said in a Palace briefing on Thursday, July 19 when he was asked about the matter amid efforts by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to postpone next year’s elections.
Alvarez has insisted on suspending the 2019 midterm elections in order to give the Congress enough time to deliberate on the proposed Constitution.
According to him, Congress will not have time to discuss moves to shift to federalism as it will be busy with the budget later this year, and with elections in May, lawmakers will be on campaign mode by the start of 2019.
“He believes in democracy, he believes in elections, and he wants to hold the referendum together with the elections. That is the position of the president,” Roque added.
The Palace spokesperson also denied that Duterte would run in tandem with losing vice presidential candidate and former Senator Bongbong Marcos to be the transition government leader, explaining that if Duterte wanted to stay in office, all he has to do is to remain in power until 2022.
“If the president wants to stay in power, he would not have asked the consultative committee to put a transitory provision that the transition leader should be elected. It would have been easy to stay in office by simply hanging on to the office because the original transitory provision provided that he will be the transition leader,” Roque said.
This was in response to former Chief Justice Hilario Davide’s statement on Wednesday saying that Duterte would run as the transition government’s leader as the draft federal charter did not bar him from doing so.
He also said that since the president and the vice president should be elected in tandem, this could pave the way for Marcos to be elected as vice president.
“That cannot happen because if the president wanted to stay in power he would not have asked for that transitory provision. The truth is, it’s enough for the president to have federalism as his legacy. He had already done what he wanted to do if we will have a charter change paving the way for federalism,” Roque explained.