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Rodrigo Duterte

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte says he's too old and tired to become a dictator and wants to cede power early

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 12:56am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 1:36am

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he is too old and tired to become a dictator - despite the fears of his opponents - and that he wants to achieve his goal of achieving federalism in the country so that he can finish his term early.

There had been concerns that Duterte’s move to introduce US-style federalism was an attempt to cling to power once his six-year term ended in 2022. But the 72-year-old said on Wednesday that he no longer has the energy.

“I will step down by 2020, I will not wait for 2022,” he said in a speech. “I am old. I have no more ambition. I really would like to rest.”

The former city mayor has long advocated federalism to tackle a yawning wealth gap, empower regional governments and recognise the country’s diverse population.

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A 19-member panel created by Duterte a month ago and composed of constitutional law experts and headed by a retired Supreme Court judge has proposed a federal model similar to the United States.

That sparked fears that it would also provide means for Duterte to hold onto power beyond his single, six-year term.

Duterte’s lower-house allies last month voted to convene a constituent assembly to revise the charter, scrapping midterm elections next year and extending the terms of all elected officials.

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The constitution was introduced in 1987 after the ousting of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a bloodless “people’s power”revolution.

Previous moves to change it have failed, with civil society and religious groups thwarting what they see as threats to a system designed to prevent strongman rulers like Marcos from emerging. 

Fears that Duterte could become an autocrat are compounded by the admiration he has expressed for Marcos.

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Experts believe Duterte may succeed in changing the charter because of his public popularity and the super-majority he holds in Congress.