Duterte rejects extension, pushes for federal system


MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (picture) has rejected calls from his allies to extend his six-year term and to cancel elections next year, while supporting moves to shift to a federal system of government.

In an interview with news website MindaNews, Duterte said he wants a federal government with a leadership structure similar to the French government, with both president and prime minister.

He also wants the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives to be merged into a single chamber with some 50 lawmakers to enact laws faster.

If the Philippines wished to change its system of government “you want a set-up that would ensure fairness and equality,” Duterte told MindaNews, while warning that federalism may still not solve the use of money, power and violence to win elections.

Duterte also said he doesn’t want to stay in power beyond 2022 and doesn’t favour calls to scrap mid-term elections for lawmakers and local officials next year as proposed by some House of Representative lawmakers.

The Philippine president, who promised the shift to federalism during the campaign to bring peace to the southern Philippines, further said he will form in a few days a consultative body to review the nation’s constitution.

He has repeatedly supported lifting the constitutional ban on foreign ownership, except on land, to further boost the economy and promote competition.