Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he is tired and old and would want to cede power early.
Duterte cleared the air Wednesday as he sought to dispel concerns that he will cling to power and become a dictator, saying he wants to achieve his goal of introducing federalism so that he can finish his term early.
The former city mayor has long advocated federalism to tackle a yawning wealth gap, empower regional governments and recognize the country’s diverse makeup.
A 19-member panel created by Duterte a month ago and composed of constitutional law experts and headed by a retired Supreme Court judge has proposed a federal model similar to the United States.
Some critics believe the move to change the constitution to facilitate that would also provide means for Duterte to hold on to power beyond 2022, when his single, six-year term ends.
But the 72-year-old said he no longer had the energy.
“I will step down by 2020, I will not wait for 2022,” he said in a speech.
“I am old. I have no more ambition. I really would like to rest.”
Duterte’s lower house allies last month voted to convene a constituent assembly to revise the charter, scrapping mid-term elections next year and extending the terms of all elected officials.
The constitution was introduced in 1987 after the ousting of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a bloodless “people’s power” revolution.
Experts believe Duterte may succeed in changing the charter because of his public popularity and the super-majority he holds in Congress.