MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has signified his intention to step down in 2019 and let the public elect a "younger" leader to oversee the transition to federalism that could start that year, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Duterte also wants a provision in the draft federal constitution that bans him from leading the transitory government, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The President on Monday approved the draft prepared by a consultative committee that was formed by Malacanang and is expected to endorse it to Congress.
"Iyung transition leader, ihahalal ng taong bayan dahil siya raw ay bibitaw na 'pag naaprubahan na ang Saligang Batas at hahayaan niya ang taong bayan na magpili ng mas bata... Para ngang nagpaaalam na e dahil ang sabi niya, 'Tapos na ako by 2019,'" Roque told radio DZMM.
(The transition leader should be elected by the public because he will step down once the new constitution is approved and he will let the public choose a younger leader. It's as if he was saying goodbye because he said, 'I will be done by 2019.')
Roque was recalling Duterte's comments during a Cabinet meeting late Monday.
"Sabi niya, ito nga ay para ma-lift lahat ng suspetya ng ibang balakin pagdating sa charter change, at pangalawa nga, siya raw ay pagod na," he added.
(He said this is to lift all suspicions that there is an ulterior motive when it comes to the proposed charter change, and secondly, he said he was already tired.)
Critics have accused Duterte and his allies in Congress of moving to amend the Constitution to keep themselves in power because the proposed federal constitution will allow him to run for 2 additional 4-year terms.
Duterte has repeatedly said that he would not seek an extension of his term after the country shifts to federalism.
A Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll of 1,200 respondents last March showed 37 percent of Filipinos backed changing the constitution, 29 percent were against it and 34 percent were undecided.
According to the draft federal constitution, the country will be divided into 18 regions which will have greater control over their own affairs.
Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, promised during the 2016 campaign to spread political power and wealth to countryside.