PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has no tendencies to become the country's next dictator, once a federal system of government is installed, Malacañang maintained on Saturday, January 6.
Communications Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar allayed fears of a looming dictatorship under the proposed federal state.
Andanar said there was no need for Duterte to prove his lack of interest for a dictatorial government, noting that the President had already said numerous times that he would give up the presidency once the country becomes federal.
"The President said that once federalism is passed, he would resign. So what do we want? What assurance do we want?" the Communications chief said in an interview with state-owned dzRB.
"It can be seen through his body language, through the messaging of the President that number one, he does not want to become the country's president, [and] number two, once the federalism is pushed through, he will step down. He repeatedly said that. And I believe he will do that," he added.
Some opposition lawmakers have raised worry that Duterte may opt to stay in power after his term in 2022 if his advocacy for a federal form of government succeeds.
Senator Francis Pangilinan had warned that under federalism, Duterte would be vested a power to create laws similar to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' Amendment No. 6, which allowed the latter to become a one-man ruler.
Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, another opposition lawmaker, had cautioned the public to watch out for the transitory provision of the proposed federal Consitution that would grant Duterte an "absolute power."
Detained Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte's vocal critic, had said the current administration's agenda to extend Duterte's term is becoming evident as they pushed for a shift to a federal state.
Andanar downplayed the concerns of Duterte's critics, reiterating that the Chief Executive would live up to his promise not to extend rule.
"Those who are saying [about Duterte's possible one-man rule] are, of course, his critics, in terms of politics in our country," he said.
"He (Duterte) will step down once federalism is implemented in the country and the form of government is changed," he added. (SunStar Philippines)