Presidend Rodrigo Duterte (MNS photo)

MANILA, Dec 11 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday criticized the lack of congressional support for his campaign promise to establish a federal system of government, months before leaving office.

Speaking at a democracy summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, Duterte said his federalism project was meant to “broaden democratic participation” in the Philippines.

“My government also sought to broaden democratic participation through federalism but my constitutional project did not get Congress support. So be it. I respect the separation of powers [that is] vital for democracy,” he said.

“The work of our imperfect democracy will certainly continue.”

Duterte has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government as a means to address economic and power imbalances.

However, his proposal has languished in Congress, which is dominated by his allies.

Opponents of Charter change, meanwhile, have accused Duterte of encouraging amendments in order to maintain his grip on power, an allegation Malacañang has repeatedly refuted, stating that the President has no desire to extend his six-year term, which ends in June 2022.

In his speech, Duterte promised free and credible elections on May 9, 2022. 

“It will be my highest honor to turn over the reins of power to my successor knowing that in the exercise of my mandate I did my best to serve the Filipino nation,” he said.

In addition, the President said that he would devote the final months of his term to reforms, “ensuring that no one is left behind as my country recovers from the pandemic.”

“We have made significant headways especially in economic expansion but COVID-19 struck and reversed many of our hard-earned gains,” he said.

Duterte said he was proud to be a part of the summit and to share the “Philippine experience” with the rest of the world.

“Today, we have a vibrant democracy, and an open and diverse society. Freedom of expression and of the press are fully enjoyed and the regular transfer of power is guaranteed through free and honest elections,” he said.

“Philippine democracy is indeed a work in progress. But the Filipino is free. The Philippines is free.” (MNS)

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