Duterte can still endorse draft charter 'at other times': Pimentel

By Azer Parrocha

July 24, 2018, 4:24 pm

MANILA -- Although President Rodrigo R. Duterte failed to endorse the proposed Federal Constitution to Congress during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, a member of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to draft the new charter said he was not at all disappointed.

ConCom member and former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. said he was not disappointed, since Duterte still had the opportunity to endorse it some other time.

“No, because the President can still endorse it at other appropriate times,” Pimentel said in a text message to reporters. “Anyway, nothing prevents the President from vetting Congressional Action on the matter anytime he wants to do so."

Pimentel pointed out that Duterte could even endorse the draft charter either "personally of through his close confidants."

The former Senate President, meanwhile, expressed confidence that Duterte would eventually endorse the draft charter since a shift to a federal system of government is among his main thrusts after all.

“The issue is very much alive in the hearts and minds of the believers in the cause. And we know that the President is one of them,” Pimentel said.

In his third and shortest SONA, the President said that it was his “honor and privilege” to receive the ConCom’s draft Federal Constitution which he believed “will truly embody the ideals and aspirations of all the Filipino people.”

Duterte also thanked members of the ConCom particularly those who came out from retirement -- especially Pimentel and former Chief Justice and ConCom chairperson, Reyanto Puno.

He also stressed anew that regardless of what Constitution is in place, he had no intention to stay beyond the end of his term in 2022.

“I have no illusions of occupying this office one day longer than what the Constitution under which I was elected permits; or under whatever Constitution there might be,” Duterte said.

SONA is for president

Pimentel, meanwhile, described the sudden change in speakership in the House of Representatives (HoR) as an event which could have been saved until after the President’s SONA.

“Ang (The) SONA is intended for the President, but unfortunately nahaluan ng hindi maganda (it was involved in something unpleasant) in the sense the event should not have taken place during that solemn occasion,” Pimentel said.

“They could have changed the leadership even the day after para ma-focus naman ang taongbayan (so that the people could have better focus),” he added.

Just hours before the President’s SONA, the majority of the members of the House of Representatives voted to replace Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez with former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This stalled the President’s SONA by more than an hour.

After Duterte delivered his SONA, the House held a special session to formally elect Arroyo as new House Speaker with a total of 184 votes.

The ouster move against Alvarez came after a manifesto of support to endorse Arroyo's speakership bid circulated Monday morning. (PNA)