MANILA, Philippines – After consulting fellow Consultative Committee (Con-Com) members, political science professor Julio Teehankee took back his interpretation of the committee's draft constitution that President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo can seek reelection under the charter if it is ratified.
"After reviewing my notes and speaking to my colleagues, in our deliberations, when we said that the term of the President and Vice President shall end on June 30, 2022 should mean that even re-election is covered," Teehankee told Rappler on Friday, July 6.
It was explained to him that term limits set by the 1987 Constitution would apply to all officials elected under it. Under the current charter, Duterte can serve only one term as president.
"This makes clear that even if there is a governmental reboot, all officials elected in the 1987 Constitution, there's some form of continuity. All rules of the '87 Constitution applies to all elected under it," he said.
Teehankee made headlines when, in an interview aired on Wednesday, July 4, on One News channel, he said that Duterte and Robredo can run again for the same positions under a new federal constitution.
"There's no ban so they (incumbent officials) can run under a new constitution. Because it's like a reboot, it's a reset," he had said.
The Con-Com's draft explicitly states that Duterte and Robredo's terms will end on June 30, 2022, a way to assure the public that the administration's pursuit of charter change is not to prolong Duterte's hold on power.
To assure people that Duterte won't be allowed to run again under a new charter, Teehankee said it's possible for the Con-Com to insert a provision explicitly stating such a prohibition.
After all, the Con-Com will still be asking for inputs from Duterte and wrapping up its regional consultations, he said.
Another Con-Com member, lawyer Roan Libarios, also said Duterte cannot seek reelection under their body's proposed charter because the same charter names him chairman of the Federal Transition Commission.
As overseer of the transition to a new constitution, Duterte will also be overseeing the first elections under the new charter, thus presenting glaring conflict of interest issues if he will be allowed to run for president in the same elections.
"It's incompatible for him to head the commission but still run," said Libarios.
Told that no provision in the current draft explicitly bars Duterte from running again, Libarios said there is an "implied prohibition."
The Con-Com's proposed transitory provisions state that the first elections after the ratification of a new constitution should take place in May 2022, or a month after Duterte's and Robredo's terms expire. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.