Duterte supports cha-cha but warns against incumbent benefits

(FILES) Former President Rodrigo Duterte
(FILES) Former President Rodrigo Duterte (Frame grab courtesy of SMNI)

Former President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his support in amending the 1987 Constitution but warned against changes that would benefit incumbent officials seeking to prolong their stay in office.

In a speech during the prayer rally in Cebu late Sunday evening, Duterte supported the idea of having a charter change (cha-cha) for as long as those in power will adhere to the constitutional limit of one term.

"I support that cha-cha, and I am comfortable supporting (President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.)," Duterte said.

The former President emphasized his confidence in the current administration, asserting that he has yet to observe any significant errors or mistakes thus far.

However, he acknowledged the possibility of issues at lower levels of government but clarified that he had not received any negative reports regarding the President.

"I haven't seen any big error, big mistake yet. Maybe at lower levels. But for (Marcos Jr.), I haven't heard anything. So I continue to support him," Duterte said.

While expressing openness to amendments, he emphasized the importance of adhering to the existing term limits and discouraging any attempts to extend political tenures beyond the mandated duration.

"Let's not change the Constitution in favor of those currently in power and seeking additional terms," Duterte said.

"We are already okay with six years. One term, let us stick to that," Duterte added.

However, Duterte slammed the move to amend the 1987 Constitution amid allegations that individuals are being offered money in exchange for their signatures in support of a People's Initiative.

During a prayer rally in Davao City last 28 January, Duterte mentioned that meaningful change in the Constitution cannot be expected if people's votes or support are being purchased from the outset.

“People’s Initiative does not involve buying the vote or the signature of the Filipino,” Duterte said.

"What's happening now, that's not a People's Initiative but buying people for their signature. It's just starting, and they're already paying. Do you believe the Constitution will turn out well if we're just bought off with money?" Duterte added.

Marcos previously said that only the economic aspects of the Constitution will be addressed in the current initiative for charter change (cha-cha), noting that it's not yet time to discuss political provisions.

Duterte said that the public shouldn't trust claims that advocates only aim to alter the economic sections of the Constitution.

"What's wrong with the Constitution? Tell me. If it's not your ambition... The real purpose of these Constitutional changes through People's Initiative is really to perpetuate those who are in power," Duterte said.

Daily Tribune