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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte flip-flops on Cha-cha for third time in two months

Former president Rodrigo Duterte somersaults on constitutional amendment, saying the administration’s push for Charter change is meant to prolong the term of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Rodrigo Duterte 2024-03-12 Flip-flop

In February, Duterte said Charter change is all right provided the incumbents and the set of leaders who will be elected in the next election would not benefit from it. In January, he said the Constitution is perfect and that he sees no need for change, contrary to his previous position, pushing for a shift to federalism, which needed a revision of the Constitution.

Two weeks after changing his tune and voicing his conditional support for amending the 1987 Constitution, former president Rodrigo Duterte once again denounced the Marcos administration’s efforts to push Charter change. This marks the third time since January that he has somersaulted on the issue.

(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte flip-flops anew on Charter change)

STATEMENT

In a prayer rally dubbed Laban Kasama ang Bayan at the Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila on March 12, Duterte, addressing his supporters, said: 

Sabi nila, ito lang mga provision: edukasyon: papasukin natin ‘yang mga alaga… Princeton, kung anoMaganda. Okay naman tayo. ‘Yung UP (University of the Philippines) natin ‘di naman matatalo. Education… advertisement… Para sa ‘kin, hindi na kailangan. Wala na… Wala! P*tang*na, kawala-walang kwenta. ‘Yan ang excuse ni Marcos noon, pati ang excuse ni Marcos noon. Marcos, Marcos. Pareho-pareho ‘yang linya. Except dito, sa isang linya lang, and’yan… ‘Yan lang ang target nila. Ito, excuse lang ito para mabuksan lang ang Konstitusyon. Hindi mo sabihin na ito lang ang galawin namin. Pag nagalaw ‘yung Konstitusyon, p*tang*na; walang makakapara. Lahat na, everything [goes].”

 

(They said these will be the only provisions: education… This is just an excuse for them to open the Constitution; nobody can stop this. All of it, everything [goes].)

Source: Sonshine Media, FULL SPEECH: Former President Rodrigo Duterte during the Laban Kasama Ang Bayan Prayer Rally, March 12, 2024, watch from 11:24 to 12:39 

Duterte stressed that the real goal of the administration’s push for Cha-cha was to extend the term of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. – like his father did. He said:

“One term lang ang president. Six years, walang re-election — kagaya sa ‘kin. ‘Yung Constitution na inabot under which Marcos was elected, ganun rin: one term, six years. Ito, excuses na lang ito. Kagaya nito ni Marcos, noong sa tatay niya. Ang puntirya talaga nila, ito, dito, eto: ‘yung term extension.”

 

(The president has only one term. Six years, no re-election – like mine. The Constitution, under which Marcos was elected, is just the same: one term, six years. These are just excuses. Like Marcos, in his father’s time. Their real target is this, right here, this: the term extension.)

Source: watch from 13:32 to 14:14

FACT

On Feb. 25, Duterte spoke in another prayer rally at the Kasadya SRP Grounds in Cebu City, backing Charter change on condition that no amendment would favor the current and the set of leaders to be elected in the next election. He said: 

Ako, magsuportar… changes in the Constitution… economic provisions, whatever… Even in the terms sa tanang chapter diha, apil na ang kanang termino sa president… Okay ko basta dili mo pabor sa galingkod karon ug sa sunod na eleksyon.”

 

(I do support… changes in the Constitution… economic provisions, whatever… Even in the terms of all the chapters there, including the term of the president. I’m okay with that for as long as that doesn’t favor the incumbent and the one succeeding in the next election.)

Source: DZAR 1026, FULL COVERAGE: Candlelight Prayer Rally sa Cebu City, Feb. 25, 2024, watch from 5:40:00 to 5:40:32

VERA Files Fact Check: Two weeks after changing his tune and voicing his conditional support for amending the 1987 Constitution, former president Rodrigo Duterte once again denounced the Marcos administration’s efforts to push Charter change. This marks the third time since January that he has somersaulted on the issue.

BACKSTORY

This is the third time Duterte changed his tune on Charter change. 

When he was campaigning for the presidency in 2016 and during his term, Duterte actively pushed for a shift to a federal form of government as a means to achieve peace in Mindanao. This proposed transition from the presidential form of government needed a revision, not just an amendment, of the 1987 Constitution. 

He created a consultative committee which finalized a draft constitution in 2018, but failed to get support from Congress and the public.

Last Jan. 6, Duterte held a press conference in Davao City where he expressed his strong disapproval of the administration’s efforts to amend the Constitution, saying the Charter is perfect and he does not see a reason to change it. He reiterated his stance on Jan. 31, explaining that amending the Constitution is “a mechanism for perpetuation of power.”

He then reverted to his initial position on Feb. 25 under specific conditions, only to once again condemn Charter change.

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Sources

DZAR 1026, FULL COVERAGE: Candlelight Prayer Rally sa Cebu City, Feb. 25, 2024

Broadcaster Dennis R. Lazo, Former President Rodrigo Duterte Meet the Press – Grand Men Seng Hotel, Davao City, Jan. 6, 2024

One News PH, RECORDED EARLIER: FORMER PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE’S PRESS CONFERENCE IN DAVAO CITY, Jan. 31, 2024

ABS-CBN News, Duterte: Federalism is key to peace in Mindanao, Nov. 30, 2015

On Duterte giving up on federalism

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)