MALACAÑANG played coy Wednesday about whether President Benigno Aquino III would seek a fresh six-year term in 2016, despite the one-term limit set by the Constitution.
“There have been people who have been asking us for comment on calls for the President to have another term because of the effect of what this administration has done,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
“The President has already expressed his preference, but of course he will see if that is the voice of the masses, the voice of his bosses. The President has his own opinion, but if you ask me, the President is sensitive to the voice of his boss. So let’s just wait for that,” Lacierda said.
On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told a TV interview he would prefer a term extension for Aquino, even though Roxas is the presumed standard bearer for the Liberals in 2016.
Two Facebook pages – Onemoretermforpnoy and OMTFP-- were also created to call for another term for the President.
The first community page has generated 1,075 likes since it was created in June, and the second has 5,940 likes since April.
Lacierda said the President has heard these calls.
“People have been talking to our Cabinet secretaries, expressing their sentiment that they want President Aquino to extend his term. These sentiments have reached the President,” he said.
“We’re very thankful of the support and the expression of a preference for another term,” Lacierda added.
But when pressed if his statements meant that the administration was now open to supporting efforts in Congress to amend the Constitution, Lacierda said no.
“The President has made his position (against) Charter change very clear...Many people have come to us and expressed the sentiment of their preference for another term. But, again, this is not something that we have discussed seriously, knowing fully well his stand on Charter change,” Lacierda said.
“If you’re asking me what is going to convince the President (to seek a second term), we have not discussed that point yet.”
“We are just stating a matter of principle that the President has always listened to his bosses. But as to the specifics, we have no specifics,” he added.
Lacierda also assured the public that government funds are not being used to bankroll groups calling for a second term for the President.
The Palace official said the administration remains focused on governance and not on the 2016 elecitons.
“It will not distract us from focusing on serving the Filipino people. These discussions are all in the realm of theory, of what ifs, in the realm of possibilities,” he said.
“We’re concerned with the here and now. We’re concerned with dealing with the concerns of the people. We’re fully committed to serving out until 2016,” Lacierda added.
Critics of the administration slammed the ruling Liberal Party Wednesday for suggesting a second term for Aquino.
“The LP is floating that idea. Shameless! What gives them the idea that Filipinos are excited over the prospect of having [Aquino] for another six years?” said Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, one of those who filed an impeachment complaint against the President.
She added that only a constitutional amendment would allow Aquino to run for a second term, a move his allies in the House of Representatives could initiate.
Ilagan said Aquino has become the alternative because Roxas “cannot hope to win.”
“How pathetic. Are they so bereft of alternatives [that] they cannot find [someone of] presidential timber? Pity our country,” Ilagan said.
The leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan branded talk of a second term as an act of desperation aimed at allowing Aquino and his officials to escape punishment for the illegal diversion of funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which the Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional.
“The people want President Aquino to be accountable for plundering the coffers through DAP. He has committed culpable violation of the Constitution that is why we wanted him impeached,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., another impeachment complainant.
United Nationalist Alliance secretary general and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said the Liberals were again pushing Aquino into violating the Constitution, after the President did that with the DAP.
“With Roxas leading the pack, an influential faction within the LP is courting President Aquino to consider seeking another term... fully aware that it is a clear violation of the Constitution,” Tiangco said.
In a TV interview Tuesday, Roxas said if it were up to him, he would want Aquino to have a second term to continue his reform program.
But Tiangco said if Roxas were sincere in helping Aquino, he would not suggest an illegal act.
“The LP has shown a pervasive pattern of disregard for the Constitution, which DAP enlarged,” he added.
“This time, they want to tamper with the term limit provision and deny the people their right to choose,” Tiangco said.
He said those behind the call for a term extension for Aquino had a hidden agenda.
“The call for term extension is reckless, ridiculous and delusional. Why does it seem like the LP and Mar Roxas are afraid of the election? Are they afraid to face the people?” Tiangco said.
Recently, a social media campaign dubbed “One More Term: Re-Elect PNoy for 2016” flooded pages on Facebook and Twitter.
The post was said to have emanated from Aquino’s official Facebook account, which has over 4 million followers, Tiangco said.
Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino described the campaign as a “desperate ploy for a lameduck President in denial.”
“They are delusional if they think people are clamoring for PNoy’s second term. It is a reckless statement. It betrays their supporters and constituents who are supporting Charter change mainly for economic reforms,” Palatino added.
“Now, nobody will believe Chacha will not remove term limits,” Palatino said.
Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said Roxas could be scared of the prospect of losing the 2016 presidential election despite the President’s support.
“That’s why he is nominating PNoy, instead. It’s embarassing that they always do poorly in the opinion surveys, so a better way out is to change the script,” De Jesus said.
“The Palace spin doctors are trying to flood social media with self-serving propaganda that this regime deserves a second term, that Noynoy is God’s gift to the Philippines,” she said.
“It is a desperate ploy to divert attention from the DAP. It also aims to boost the stock of Mar as Noynoy’s anointed. He is now the next big thing to a second term for Aquino. Palace operatives are delusional if they think they can get away with a second term for Noynoy... We say, No way! Aquino is not even fit to finish his term,” De Jesus said.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio also slammed Roxas’ statement on a second term.
He added: “He knows full well that it is prohibited in the Constitution. Is the LP leadership now signaling another assault on the Constitution?”
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. dismissed talk of a second term as wishful thinking on the part of Roxas.
“That’s what he would like,” Marcos said.
“Well, maybe he’s an admirer of the President and he would like the President to continue But our Constitution does not allow it,” he added.
Marcos said he would not be surprised if somebody might attempt to amend the Constitution to allow Aquino to seek another term, even though the President has consistently opposed Charter change.
Unless Aquino has a change of heart, nothing will come from calls for a second term, Marcos added.
Senator Nancy Binay said she would not support amending the Constitution in Aquino’s remaining two years in office. She said, however, that she is open to eventually changing the term limits from one six-year term to two four-year terms.
Binay’s father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, is expected to run in 2016, probably against Roxas, although rumors have spread that the Liberals would “adopt” the vice president as its standard bearer.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said he has not discussed the possibility of a term extension with Aquino, but said this would require a constitutional amendment.
He said he had not seen the Roxas interview, but said the Senate had no plans to initiate amendments to the Constitution. – With Maricel V. Cruz
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