Duterte wants consultative panel, Congress "to act" on Charter amendments this year
President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants Congress "to act" on recommendations from a panel that he created to examine amendments to the 1987 Constitution "done this year."
In a press conference at the Davao International Airport where he arrived Saturday morning from India, Duterte mixed some levity as he gave a working timeline for the consultative committee members and Congress while coping with migraine and a cold.
"I’m waiting for it and maybe look into how grammar and the… dangling clauses and all," said Duterte, who added that "several ideas go into play" here.
Then, he said: " Just enough time to also --- for Congress to act on it without --- I want it done this year."
Likening the process of amending the Constitution to a cellphone whose screen froze, or in popular term, "hang", he said: "This is not like a cellphone that hangs. I do not want it."
"It’s either we do it, if there’s a cost, so be it. It may result in violence, we avoid it," he added.
Duterte wants the present form of unitary government changed to federalism, which would make growth more inclusive and spur peace.
After weeks of wrangling between both Houses of Congress whether they would vote separately or jointly on the changes to the Constitution, leaders of both chambers agreed to work together on the amendments. But Duterte said "procrastination" is the real foe.
"The problem is really the procrastination. So I would wait for the right time, procrastinate --- procrastination and I waste time and the four years is there and I have done nothing for the country." he said.
Duterte specifically mentioned how important the shift to federalism is important to solve the Moro problem.
"Let us show the Moro that we are trying our best. That those Constitutional provisions that will be violated can be corrected if there is a federal setup coming," he said.
"There is a caveat there by somebody in Central Mindanao which says that… I think it’s (Al-Haj) Murad ( chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and I have a, pardon me, I have an attack of migraine and I have a cold coming up," he said.
"Murad said,'We are tired of waiting for so long', said Duterte. He said the promises was not done in his administration "but it so happens that this is my time."
He said the commitment to come out with a federal system was promised to Nur Misuari ( chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front).
"I do not want to make … a big issue about it but it was the time when (President) Cory Aquino went to Jolo to talk to Misuari and made some concessions about a federal setup.
"Now they want us to fulfill that promise and they are threatening to go to war," added Duterte
"I'm pleading to the Moro people to give government a chance to work out something. That’s the last thing that I would want to happen to my country. Go again and wage war against their own people," said Duterte.
"If the thing that we are working at now does not fit, your paradigm of what you want, we can always talk and change everything," said Duterte. DMS