Duterte starts moves to amend Constitution

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order creating a 25-member panel to propose specific amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order creating a 25-member panel to propose specific amendments to the 1987 Constitution.PHOTO: EPA

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has set in motion a proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution to set up a federal system of government to end conflict and give a further boost to the economy.

He has signed an executive order creating a 25-member panel to propose specific amendments to the charter. The order was made public yesterday.

His executive secretary Salvador Medialdea this week said the consultative committee, whose members will soon be appointed by Mr Duterte, was given a six-month deadline to make its proposals before Congress can vote on the changes.

The existing Constitution, ratified in 1987, abolished the parliamentary system which dictator Ferdinand Marcos created and reverted to a presidential form, similar to that of the country's former colonial master, the United States.

Mr Duterte has said a federal form of government would help end conflict with a Muslim minority in the south, which has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced two million.

Two Muslim rebel factions have been negotiating for an autonomous region in the south for four decades and Mr Duterte believes a federal system, which can grant more political and economic power to the minority, can end the rebellion.

PERSONAL STAKE

If you can give me that document, I would urge you to call for an election... I will go, do not worry about me, I don't have any ambition.

PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE, on his vow to step down if the two Houses of Congress can set up the federal system in the next few years.

He has vowed to step down from power even before his term ends in 2022 if the two Houses of Congress can set up the federal system in the next few years.

"If you can give me that document, I would urge you to call for an election," Mr Duterte has said. "I will go, do not worry about me, I don't have any ambition."

Mr Medialdea said Mr Duterte also favoured constitutional change to further open up the economy, amending restrictive provisions such as limiting foreign investment in retail and other sectors to 40 per cent. Land ownership would remain in Filipino hands.

Senators, including those in the minority faction, are expected to go along with the President's proposal.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte starts moves to amend Constitution'. Print Edition | Subscribe