Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed doubts over Mr. Duterte's marching order for the incoming House Speaker to amend the 1987 Constitution as part of his plan to elude accountability for the human rights violations committed during his term.
De Lima made the statement after Duterte chose Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano to become the next House Speaker even as he reiterated for the umpteenth time his call to change the Constitution, this time allegedly to end corruption in the government.
"May duda pa ba na isang diktador ang Pangulong ito? May duda pa ba na nasa basurahan na yung ating constitutional checks and balance?" De Lima said in a handwritten statement.
"May duda pa ba na ang pakay ni Duterte at ng kanyang mga tuta at kampon ay manatili pa nang matagal sa kapangyarihan, even beyond 2022? Why? To evade accountability...." she added.
In the same speech where he named Cayetano as his choice for the House Speakership last July 8, Mr. Duterte also pushed for a change in the 1987 Constitution, which can be made possible through the efforts of the Lower House.
While he may have edged his rivals for the House leadership contest, Cayetano has yet to secure the majority of votes of his colleagues when the session of the 18th Congress officially opens on July 22.
With the President's endorsement, Cayetano immediately offered his colleagues the idea of lifting their three-year term of office to either four years with no term limits or five years with term limits. Cayetano was Duterte's running mate in the 2016 elections.
De Lima, the staunchest critic of the administration's flawed policies, said the Filipinos should not allow Mr. Duterte to grant additional and unchecked powers to the Office of the President and his lackeys through the change in the 1987 Constitution.
"Huwag nating hayaan na basta basta nalang makatakas ang mga mapangabusong politiko tulad ni Duterte sa mga patong-patong nilang kasalanan sa bayan sa pamamagitan ng pangaabuso nila sa kanilang termino," De Lima said in a separate statement.
The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that abusive officials like Duterte should be held accountable not only for the human rights abuses his administration instigated but also for the worsening records of corruption and spread of fake news in the country.
"Sangkaterba na ang kasalanan ng pamahalaang ito sa taumbayan, kasama na ang isyu ng West Philippine Sea, extrajudicial killings at panggigipit at pagkakalat ng pekeng balita laban sa mga kritiko at nagtatanggol sa karapatang pantao," said De Lima.
"Masyado nang naaapi at nagigipit ang milyu-milyong Pilipino sa sarili nilang bayan dahil sa gobyernong ito. Panahon na upang papanagutin ang pamahalaang ito sa kanilang mga kasalanan sa mga Pilipino," she added.
Mr. Duterte has recently received a backlash for his reaction to the resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council which calls for a comprehensive review of the human rights situation in the Philippines.
Official figures showed that about 29,000 people have died since Mr. Duterte launched his violent war on drugs, of which 6,000 suspected drug offenders were killed in police operations while the rest were cases of killing categorized as deaths under inquiry.
Source: Senate of the Philippines