President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday directed government forces to shoot him if he dares to go beyond his six-year term.
The Chief Executive issued the statement amid speculations that he would use Charter change (Cha-cha) to build up a dictatorship.
“Ako sinasabi ko sa inyo ngayon, pag ako sumobra sa aking termino, isang araw lang (I tell you now, if I exceed my term even for a day), I am now asking the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP not to allow me or anybody else to mess up with the Constitution,” Duterte said in a speech during the launching of an agriculture program for troops in Compostela Valley.
“Inyong trabaho ‘yan (that’s your job), to protect the Constitution, and to protect the people. Remember it as a solemn duty. Kaya ako ‘pag sumobra, gusto kong mag-diktador, barilin ninyo ako. Hindi ako nagbobola (If I go beyond my term and I would want to be a dictator, shoot me. I’m not kidding),” he added.
Earlier this month, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said that Duterte’s six-year term may be extended as it may be part of a transition period once an amended Constitution begins a shift from unitary to a federal form of government.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, for his part, said that the 2019 midterm polls might not be necessary once the country’s form of government is changed to a federal.
Opposition members are concerned that the shift to federalism might be used to raise the term limits and initiate a dictatorship.
Malacañang, however, dismissed claims that the Chief Executive would utilize the plan of federalism shift to cling more to power, saying extending his term is Duterte’s “ultimate nightmare.”
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that Duterte, as chief implementer of the Constitution, is committed to ensuring that the next election in 2019 will be the “cleanest “elections the country will ever have.
In his previous speeches, Duterte has said several times that he would offer to resign ahead of his term, which will end in 2022, if the Philippine government manages to shift to federalism.