President for life? Philippines' Duterte won't do a Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte prior to their bilateral meeting at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, on May 15, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - President Rodrigo Duterte is not interested in extending his term beyond 2022, Malacañang said on Tuesday (Feb 27), unlike Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Chinese Communist Party proposed on Sunday to remove a constitutional clause limiting presidential service to just two terms in office. If approved by the Parliament at an annual meeting next month, the lifting of the presidential term limit would enable Xi, who is also the head of the Communist Party and the military, to serve for life.

The plan has been met with vigorous opposition on social media platforms in China.

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said that if Xi stays beyond the end of his term in 2023, Duterte will not follow suit.

"The President has said he wants to step down earlier if possible and will not stay one minute longer beyond 2022 (when his term ends)," Roque told a press briefing at the presidential office.

"That he will not stay longer than 2022 is absolute. He may step down earlier if the Constitution is amended," Roque added.

Roque declined to comment on the Chinese Communist Party's plan to extend Xi's term, saying: "We don't comment on the internal affairs of our friendly neighbours."

Asked if Duterte's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan might entertain similar plans, Roque replied: "That may be something that the president of China may or may not want, but as far as President Duterte is concerned, that's out of the question to extend his term."

Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has sought to cultivate a close relationship with China in spite of Manila's territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.

He has even joked about making the Philippines a province of China.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.