House leaders rebuff ex-President Duterte’s term extension claims

By Jose Cielito Reganit

March 13, 2024, 10:08 pm

MANILA – House leaders on Wednesday rebuffed former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s persistent claim that the ongoing push to amend the 1987 Constitution is geared towards term extension.

In a press briefing, House Committee on Muslim Affairs chairperson Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (Lanao del Sur, 1st District) and Assistant Majority Leader Francisco Paolo Ortega (La Union, 1st District) emphasized that the focus of ongoing legislative deliberations is solely on amending the restrictive economic provisions in the 37-year-old Charter.

“It's very clear, it's in black and white that we're only dealing specifically with the economic provisions," Dimaporo said during the daily press conference at the House of Representatives.

Dimaporo was referring to two identical resolutions being discussed in both the House and the Senate, focusing on amending particular economic constitutional provisions related to public utilities, education, and advertising.

He said perhaps Duterte, who he acknowledged is deeply respected and well-loved in Mindanao, “hasn’t been clarified” of the ongoing economic amendments discussions in Congress.

Like Dimaporo, Ortega also stressed that the discussions surrounding constitutional amendments are “purely economic Cha-cha, with no talk of politics or term extensions.”

Duterte has consistently asserted that the primary aim of the Charter change efforts is to extend the term of incumbent elective officials, particularly President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

This assertion was reiterated during a recent “prayer rally” in support of embattled religious leader Apollo Quiboloy in Manila, which subsequently evolved into an anti-government demonstration.

Political, economic repercussions

In the same press briefing, Aklan 2nd District Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. expressed concern over the political repercussions of Duterte’s actions, warning they could have serious economic consequences for the country.

“The political ripple that he (Duterte) created may burn the house down,” Haresco warned.

He highlighted the recent foreign trip of President Marcos, who secured investment deals worth at least USD4 billion during his working visit to Germany.

Haresco warned that due to perceived political instability, these investments may now be at risk, leading to a potential suspension of foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the Philippines.

“There will be some suspended animation from all these targeted [FDIs] into our country with that move of our honored former President Digong,” he said.

Haresco also warned against using God’s name for personal and political gains amid the intensifying political activities leading up to the 2025 midterm elections.

He also urged for the suspension of political rallies, including those disguised as prayer gatherings until the election period, saying it’s too early to engage in politicking.

Meanwhile, Ortega also expressed bewilderment over the evolving nature of prayer rallies, as personalities who are present “should be the personalities who are first and foremost the ones who should help the government in addressing the country’s problems".

He said “influential individuals” should instead focus on helping the government solve pressing issues, rather than agitating the public and exacerbating political tensions.

“I encourage them na tulungan natin ‘yung gobyerno natin, tulungan natin si Presidente Bongbong Marcos kasi napakaaga po ng pulitika, so tulungan po natin ‘yung bansa (to help the government and President Marcos because it’s too early for politics, let’s just help our country),” Ortega said. (PNA)