MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday dismissed as “far-fetched” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) fear of a “creeping dictatorship” under President Rodrigo Duterte. This was amid his administration’s push to amend the Constitution to establish a federal system of government.
In a press briefing in Baguio City, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that Duterte, as an advocate of the rule of law, had been “clear and equivocal” when he said that he would follow the Constitution and finish his term at noon of June 30, 2022.
“We understand the sentiments of the Catholic bishops on their aversion to Charter change and federalism. We, however, assure our bishops that the President has no interest to extend his term nor will he push for no election,” he said.
“The creeping dictatorship that, the Catholic hierarchy fears, is a far-fetched idea,” Roque stressed.
The Palace spokesperson made the statement after the CBCP issued pastoral guidelines to discern the moral dimension of the present-day moves for Charter change.
On Monday, the CBCP urged legislators to set aside self-interest and to instead promote the common good.
The bishops called on the faithful to be vigilant and to “persuade our legislators to do only what is genuinely for the good of all on this issue of Charter change.”
Duterte has advocated the change to a federal system of government since the campaign and has supported moves by his allies in Congress to amend the Constitution through constituent assembly.
However, Duterte has repeatedly stressed that he “will not remain a second longer” when his term expires and is even willing to step down earlier if the shift to federalism is realized before his term ends. (PNA)