Philippine Daily Inquirer

FED­ER­AL­ISM MAY BE SMOKE­SCREEN FOR DUTERTE RE­ELEC­TION—MON­SOD

- By Vince F. Nonato @VinceNona­toINQ

“Is fed­er­al­ism a Tro­jan horse to stay in power?”

So asked Chris­tian Mon­sod, one of the framers of the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion, as he warned that the pro­posed fed­eral Char­ter could serve as a ve­hi­cle for Pres­i­dent Duterte to stay in power be­yond 2022, when his six-year term ends.

Al­though the draft fed­eral Char­ter barred a term ex­ten­sion, “there was no ex­plicit pro­hi­bi­tion on (Mr. Duterte) run­ning (for a sec­ond term) un­der the new Con­sti­tu­tion,” Mon­sod said in a speech at a fo­rum hosted by the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man and the Philip­pine Cen­ter for In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ism.

The 22-mem­ber con­sul­ta­tive com­mit­tee ap­proved the draft Char­ter on July 3.

‘Cul­ture of vi­o­lence’

“If (Pres­i­dent Duterte) wants to stay in power be­yond 2022, the only le­gal way to do it is by Char­ter change, with a new Con­sti­tu­tion that al­lows him to run again mainly through its tran­si­tory pro­vi­sions—the way Mar­cos did it,” Mon­sod said, re­fer­ring to the late dic­ta­tor Fer- di­nand Mar­cos, whose 1973 Con­sti­tu­tion helped ce­ment his hold on power.

“If the Mar­cos legacy is a cul­ture of cor­rup­tion, then the Duterte legacy would be a cul­ture of vi­o­lence. In fact, I be­lieve that we are al­ready on a slip­pery slope to au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism even with­out Char­ter change,” Mon­sod said.

Puno re­mark

He said he was par­tic­u­larly both­ered by the re­mark of for­mer Chief Jus­tice Rey­nato Puno, chair of the con­sul­ta­tive com­mis­sion, dur­ing the body’s first ses­sion on Feb. 19.

Puno called for “a mod­er­a­tion on the ex­treme ex­er­cise of the check­ing power by each branch of gov­ern­ment,” and said that “in times of crises, more than one voice is noise.”

Mon­sod said this “sound[ed] dan­ger­ously Mar­cosian,” and asked who would de­ter­mine the “ex­treme ex­er­cise” of checks and bal­ances.

The for­mer Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions chair also raised doubts that the “good pro­vi­sions” of the com­mit­tee’s draft —such as the ban on po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties—would be adopted by Con­gress.

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