President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential Photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has encouraged the country's next leader to make an initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution as soon as he assumes the presidency on June 30.

He made the call as he reiterated the need to make changes in the country's charter, be it a shift into a federal form of government or not.

Duterte, in a prerecorded Talk to the People delivered Wednesday night but aired Thursday morning, said there is "really a demand of the moment" to introduce amendments to the Constitution.

"Ngayon na, umpisahan na kaagad. Kasi pagka ginawa mo ‘yan ‘yung patapos ka na, sabihin nila (It should be done now. Because if you do that before your term ends, they would say) you want to change some provisions in the Constitution to allow you to run," he said.

Duterte told his successor to propose the change in the Constitution as early as possible to avoid speculations that the move was meant to extend the president's term.

"Parang ginawa sa akin na itong si Duterte gusto kasi another term. Susmaryosep, inyo na lang ‘yan. Pero dapat umpisahan na sa bagong administrasyon, kailangan talaga (That's what they did to me, saying I want that because I want another term. My golly, it’s all yours. But the new administration must do that because that's necessary)," he said.

READ: Constitutional reforms part of Covid-19 solution: advocate

Reforms in the Constitution calls for lifting the restrictive economic provisions, a shift to a parliamentary system and federal form of government.

Partial and unofficial count of votes released by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting showed that former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is the leading presidential candidate, with 31,091,482 votes, as of 9:32 p.m., Wednesday.

Scrap party-list system

Duterte also hoped that his successor would reconsider the abolition of the party-list system.

This, as he reiterated that some party-list groups serve as legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Duterte insisted that the only intention of the Left-leaning party-lists is to topple the government.

"Ako (Me), I recommend the abolition of itong (the) party-list [system]. Ginagamit eh (They are being used). Although they are a very -- a few, but still they participate in the government that they wish to destroy. Iyan ang nakakatawa diyan, pumapasok sila sa gobyerno (That is what is funny, they are in the government), they participate in the governance process and yet they -- what they really want is to destroy that government at palitan nila ng kanila (and replace it with their allies)," he said.

Duterte earlier warned the Filipinos against the Kabataan, Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and Gabriela party-list groups, or the so-called “KABAG” serving as legal fronts of the CPP.

The CPP-New People’s Army (NPA) is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated CPP-NPA’s political wing, National Democratic Front, as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.

'I'm no fascist'

Meantime, Duterte said he is now ready to leave the presidency on June 30.

Duterte said his willingness to step down from office next month proves that he is "no fascist."

"Sige sabihin nila pasista, kayo ang pasista (They are calling me fascist. You are the fascist, not me)," he told his critics. "Ngayon na Presidente ako, kailan ninyo narinig na pumayag ako ng abuso o nakawan diyan sa pera ng gobyerno (When I became president, when did you hear me condone abuses or corruption in government)?"

Duterte said he would even feel "patriotic," when he turns over the reins of power to his successor.

"Once the will of the people has been made known and all the winners have been officially proclaimed, we will begin the important process of transition of power to our new set of leaders. Sinabi ko, I would feel patriotic in the coming days when I shall have to transfer the reins of government to the newly-elected officials," he said. (PNA)