PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday he has changed his mind and is now open to amending the 1987 Constitution to clip the powers of the Supreme Court and to open the door to a second term for himself.
“Before all these things happened, I was closed to [Charter change],” Aquino said, referring to recent decisions by the Supreme Court declaring congressional pork barrel and his Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional. “But now, I’m seriously rethinking things, because of the judicial reach.”
Speaking in a TV5 interview, Aquino said the Supreme Court “uses too often its powers to check on the other branches of government.”
He noted that the 1987 Constitution mandated the Supreme Court to step into political questions, in contrast to the setup when the Marcos-era Supreme Court refused to check the Executive on the 1972 martial law declaration because it was a “political question.”
“And in fact in the 1987 Charter’s martial law provision, any citizen may petition the SC as to the factual basis for the imposition of martial law,” Aquino noted. “But the problem now, some are asking, is it too much already?”
Aquino complained that the Supreme Court has not practiced judicial restraint, and it in fact appeared to be using its powers to check other branches too often.
He cited the court’s ruling against the DAP, which he said contravened the constitutional presumption of innocence and the presumption of regularity of official acts.
“Now, the balance between the three branches seems to be vanishing,” Aquino said.
Aquino also said he was now amenable to amending the constitutional provision limiting presidents to one six-year term, but said this did not mean he would run again in 2016.
“When I ran for President, I was fully aware that it is only for one term of six years. Now, having said that, I also need to listen to my bosses,” Aquino said. “But this doesn’t automatically mean I’ll be chasing after another term.”
Aquino said a crucial question he would want to consult with his supporters was how to ensure that the reforms that he started will become permanent. “How can we be assured that all our efforts will take root and the reforms will become permanent?” Aquino said.
Earlier, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, the presumptive standard bearer of Aquino’s Liberal Party, said he would prefer a term extension for the President.
Two Facebook community pages were also created to call for a second term for Aquino, but the Palace disavowed any involvement in their creation.
Earlier, veteran political analyst Ramon Casiple said the Liberal Party may be floating the “trial balloon” of a possible second term for Aquino because it has no strong contender for the 2016 presidential polls.
“Understandably, the Liberal Party has a problem now because it does not have a strong contender. The ratings of Mar (Roxas) remain unchanged. His numbers are not going up,” said Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.
“For the LP, that is not a palatable scenario, so they come up with a trial balloon to test the sentiments of the public if they want another term for the President. If they can get away with it (term extension for Aquino) , they will do it to keep the power,” Casiple added.
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