By Joann Santiago
MANILA, Aug. 3 (PNA) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday called on lawmakers to do their part in changing the Constitution but warned them not to take advantage of it otherwise face the consequence.
“Mamili kayo…You do it properly. Do not, huwag mong lokohin ang tao. Pag pinilit ninyo iyan, sarado kayong lahat (Choose. Do it properly. Do not fool the people . If you insist on it I’ll close you down),” he said referring to lawmakers’ personal interests.
In his speech before volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), who made a courtesy call in Malacanang Wednesday afternoon, the President said he earlier preferred for a change in the Constitution through Constitutional Commission (Con-Con).
He, however, said that upon learning that this needs a budget of at least Php 10 billion up to Php 50 billion, he changed his mind and instead selected a Constitutional Assembly (ConAss).
He stressed his bid for a Constitution change lies on his goal to introduce a Federal system of government, which he believes is the best mode of government that would ensure a sustained and inclusive growth for all citizens.
He also urged the public not to be judgemental on lawmakers’ competence because their worth shows on their track record.
He even pointed out that whatever the lawmakers decide on will be submitted to the voters for a plebiscite.
”And for all the time that you’d been crafting a new Constitution I am here… Maniwala kayo (believe me) that I will be the last one to agree to any thing there that would destroy our country,” he said.
President Duterte, in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25, said he favors a federal type of government similar to France.
“If you can amend the Constitution, and you can do it by three to four years, and you can elect a new president and a parliament like France, I will willingly give up the remaining years of my term and go out. Walang drama. Wala lahat. Magre-retire na ako (If you can amend the Constitution and you can do it by three to four years, and you can elect a new president and a parliament like France, I will willingly give up the remaining years of my term and go out. No drama. No anything. I will retire),” he said.
President Duterte also disclosed his intention to “destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government now.”
He cited as example tycoon Roberto Ongpin, Trade and Industry Minister during the Marcos regime, whom he said has connections even in the administration of former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.
Ongpin heads several entities including real estate company Alphaland Corporation, which he serves as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) since November 11, 2009.