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Palace vows smooth transition



Malacañang assured the public of unhampered government services even as the Duterte administration began its preparations for the turnover of government business to the next Philippine president.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who leads the presidential transition committee, said his team had directed agencies and offices under the Executive branch to form their internal subcommittees or clusters to deal with pressing concerns in their respective departments for the upcoming administration.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Budget and Management Undersecretary Tina Rose Maria Canda, and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua were also part of the presidential transition committee.

The body was formed in accordance with Administrative Order 47, which President Rodrigo Duterte had approved Tuesday, a day after the nationwide election.

Medialdea said the committee would “serve as overall and central coordinator” of the national government’s transition activities and would ensure that the delivery of services are “unhampered” amid the process.

“We will work closely with the representatives of the incoming administration to ensure a peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” Medialdea said during Duterte’s “Talk to the People” aired Thursday morning.

“Since we still have no proclaimed winner, talks are put on hold but preparations on our end need to begin,” he added.

Bongbong Marcos, the 64-year-old son and namesake of former President Ferdinand Marcos, is poised to succeed Duterte after getting over 31 million votes, more than double the number of his closest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo.

Probe fraud allegations

Although President Rodrigo Duterte was sure that there were no irregularities in the 9 May election, he urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate fraud allegations to dispel doubts on the integrity of the results.

Duterte made the call in his pre-recorded public address aired Thursday morning, his first public appearance after the election which was marred by the malfunctioning of at least 1,800 vote-counting machines (VCM).

“They said machines bogged down and could not read votes. I hope that Comelec will also find time to investigate just to disabuse the minds of those who think there was cheating,” he said.

“I saw no cheating, to be honest about it, and I will not allow that. However, just to satisfy the doubts of a few of them, investigate the results and explain to the people what happened,” Duterte said, addressing officials of the poll body.

Comelec officials earlier said at least 1,800 of some 106,000 VCM broke down on election day from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The figure accounted for less than two percent of the total number of machines used across the country, but it excluded VCM that had glitches on Monday afternoon.

Such incidents forced voters to stay in line for hours or waive their rights to see their ballots being fed into the machines.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Tuesday in front of the Comelec’s main office in Manila to demand an explanation over the said incidents.

The Comelec had said that the vote count was accurate despite VCM issues. Poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting also vouched for the accuracy of the voting results.

Duterte, in the same speech, described the recent election as “successful” and “generally peaceful,” as he lauded the Comelec for the swift transmission of election results.

He also thanked government officials, teachers, military and police, the civil society sector, and thousands of volunteers for their participation in this year’s election.

“More importantly, I thank and congratulate the Filipino people. You made the elections successful because you have made your will known by performing your sacred right and duty to vote,” said the President.

Prioritize people’s welfare

Duterte congratulated candidates who won the elections as he urged them to serve Filipinos and “prioritize the welfare of the general public above everything.”

He also thanked those who failed to secure seats for their participation in the elections.

“You may not have won this time but I hope that you will continue to serve our people in your capacity as leaders in your respective sectors and communities,” he told the defeated candidates.
Duterte would bow out of office on 30 June, and he urged the public to unite under the incoming administration.

“By noon of 30 June, I invite the public to join me in running behind our new elected leaders, so we can continue the difficult but rewarding task of building a stronger and more progressive nation,” he said.

Charter change

Duterte urged the next administration to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution — a campaign promise that he himself failed to fulfill while in office, saying reforms were needed to be introduced such as the abolishment of the partylist system.

“Whoever the next president is, it could be as good as any other time to initiate whether to convert Congress into a constituent body or call for constitutional convention but it is very expensive to do,” Duterte said.

The President advised his successor to propose changes in the Constitution as soon as he assumes the presidency on 30 June to avoid speculations that the move was meant to extend the term of the chief executive.

“It should be done now because if you do that before your term ends, they would say you want to change some provisions in the Constitution to allow you to run,” he said.

Duterte also hoped that his successor would reconsider the abolition of the party-list system as he claimed anew that some groups were just “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines.