President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is joined by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano during the joint session of the 18th Congress and before delivering his Fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22, 2019. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte wants the party-list system removed to unseat Makabayan bloc lawmakers, who have been accused of fronting for the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Thursday.

“Ang sinabi niya, ‘I want this problem with the CPP-NPA solved… The best way is we remove the party-list system or change it in the Constitution. So we can call for a constituent assembly and amend that,'” Sotto told reporters.

“Mainit na mainit siya doon sa CPP-NPA issue. Ang dating sa kaniya, some members of the House of Representatives, particularly the Makabayan bloc, ay symphatizers or connected with the CPP-NPA,” Sotto added.

The Senate president however clarified that a charter change or constitutional reform was “almost impossible” as Duterte only has two years left in his term.

“‘Pag sinabi mong Charter change, it’s the entire Constitution that you have to replace. Eh hindi ganoon kadali ‘yan lalo na there is less than two years in the term of (President Duterte),” he said.

“Baka amendments to the Charter, baka one of two points ang aamyendahan doon, may pag-asa pa,” he added.

According to Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque, Duterte’s push for changes in the Constitution did not mean the president wanted a term extension.

“Wala pong katuturan iyang mga tsismis na iyan [na gusto ng presidente ng term extension]. Tsismis lang po iyan. The president has made it clear, wala po siyang kahit anong kagustuhan na manatili ng isang minuto man lang beyond his term of office on June 30, 2022,” he said in a Palace briefing.

“Wala pong ibang top priority ang Pangulo kung hindi matapos po itong pandemyang ito sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng bakuna sa ating mga kababayan,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro