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Palace dismisses term extension rumors: Duterte focused on COVID-19 response

Malacañang on Thursday shot down rumors about a potential term extension for President Rodrigo Duterte and other elective officials under the charter change proposal pending in Congress.

Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. reiterated that the President is not interested in clinging to power beyond June 2022 when his six-year term ends.

“Wala pong katuturan iyang mga tsismis na iyan,” Roque said at a news conference after rumors swirled on social media that the charter change initiative was a bid to keep Duterte in office until 2025.

“The President has made it clear, wala po siyang kahit anong kagustuhan na manatili ng isang minuto man lang beyond his term of office.”

Roque said Duterte is focused on the government’s COVID-19 response.

“Wala pong ibang top priority ang Pangulo kung hindi matapos po itong pandemyang ito sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng bakuna sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.

The House of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments has scheduled a hearing on January 13 to tackle the proposal to amend the “restrictive” economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Two administration senators— Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino—filed a resolution in December asking both houses of Congress to convene as a constituent assembly for the purpose of amending the Constitution.

The amendments will be limited to the provisions on "democratic representation and the economic provisions" of the Constitution, the resolution read.

“Katungkulan po iyan ng mga mambabatas. That is their sole, exclusive prerogative; nirirespeto po natin iyan,” Roque said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, however, said Duterte does not want a term extension but rather an amendment to the party-list system.

Sotto said the President had expressed concern about party-list lawmakers with alleged ties to the communist rebels. Roque said he had no idea about the matter. -MDM, GMA News