President Rodrigo R. Duterte

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night said there is a need to change the Constitution, even if it is a shift into a federal system of government or not.

Duterte made this remark after announcing that he will be endorsing Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as next speakers of the House of Representatives under a term-sharing agreement.

He said Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who has also vied for the House speaker post, would be the next Majority Leader in the lower chamber.

“We have to change the Constitution. Whether federal or not,” Duterte said during the oath-taking of newly-appointed officials in Malacañan Palace.

“Sabi ko doon sa tatlo kinausap ko (I told the three I spoke to) --- si speaker and that is Cayetano. Velasco, he will be assuming sa term-sharing…tapos si majority floor leader, sabi ko (I said), ‘If you want to change the Constitution, do it now. Nandiyan pa ako (While I’m here)," he added.

Duterte earlier said he will no longer insist on pushing for federalism but would still prefer to make “changes” in the country’s charter.

“If you do not want federalism, fine. But change the Constitution, that would really change this nation,” Duterte said in his speech last June 26.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was still hope for federalism since Duterte still had three years left before the end of his term.

“Palagay ko 'di mawawala ‘yan. May tatlong taon pa naman tayo (I think the effort to push for federalism won’t just go away. We have three years left),” Panelo said in a radio interview.

“There is always the light at the end of the tunnel,” he added. (PNA)