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Philippines MPs to debate new federal system, may extend Duterte term

Philippines lawmakers began formal proceedings to change the government into a federal system on Tuesday. The move could allow President Rodrigo Duterte to stay in office for more than a decade, AFP reports. The proposed shift from a unitary system would give the next president two five-year terms and strong powers over a nation that would be divided into five federal states, according to Congressional Leader Roger Mercado. The proposed charter calls for a federal parliamentary system with the prime minister as head of government, but the president would still have vast powers. Under the proposed draft, Duterte, whose single six-year term ends in mid-2022, would again be eligible to run for two more five-year terms. Critics describe the switch as unnecessary, and fear that it will weaken the current constitution’s safeguards against dictatorship.