FRIENDS and allies of the Aquino family on Friday added their voices to those opposing President Benigno Aquino III’s call to amend the Constitution to clip the powers of the judiciary and allow him to run for a second term.
Vice President Jejomar Binay warned of a political and constitutional crisis if Aquino and his allies push through with their plans, saying that amending the Constitution would be destabilizing and divisive.
“Those advising the President to pursue a course that will lead to a frontal confrontation with the Supreme Court are bringing our country to the brink of a political and constitutional crisis,” Binay said in a statement released Friday.
He added that advisers who were pushing Aquino toward a second term were putting in peril his chances of leaving behind a positive legacy.
“In doing so, they invoke the name of public interest. To blur the delineation between their selfish interest and public interest is dangerous and despotic,” he said.
Binay also contested the President’s statement that the Supreme Court was using its power too often, saying checks and balances were the foundations of democracy.
When the Supreme Court ruled against Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, it was in exercise of its duty as enshrined in the Constitution that was ratified during the administration of Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino, Binay said.
“The Constitution is quite explicit when it reposed on the judiciary not only the power but also the duty to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch of instrumentality of government,” Binay said.
“This was included precisely to prevent a situation where the judiciary bends to the will of one branch, or of one man as was the case during martial law,” he added.
Earlier, Aquino’s ally rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson also objected to amending the Constitution to give the President the opportunity to run for a second term.
Former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Aquino should no longer seek a second term and said the so-called clamor for him to run was coming from his “cheering squad.”
“The voices prodding him to lift the term limit on the presidency are those coming from his allies who have personal interests to protect,”” Pimentel told the Manila Standard.
He said Aquino should not ruin the presidency and the trust and confidence of the Filipino people by listening to the “reckless voices from the trees.”
“Is he the only one who is able to handle the presidency?” said Pimentel.
Pimentel said six years is more than enough time for one to show that he is a good president, and he advised Aquino to focus his energy on his remaining days in office.
Pimentel said Aquino was being tempted by those around him with political ambitions and selfish interests.
“I believe his allies are more interested here. Retention of power is the name of the game. They know that if there’s a new President, they will no longer be around,” he added.
Pimentel also said Aquino’s recent statement on Charter change might be a message to Binay “to slow down” and not to act as if he is already the next president.
Another administration ally, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the administration must mute the “Cha-cha music” if it wanted the nation to march to the same beat.
Former Commission on Elections chairman Christian Monsod, who had helped draft the 1987 Constitution, said Aquino should not think he is the only one who can institute reforms.
“We need systemic change. That’s more than the capability of one person, even if he’s a Superman. And he’s (Aquino) not a Superman,” Monsod told the ANC news channel.
Monsod said he was disappointed that Aquino was not like his mother who rejected suggestions to run for a second term although no law prevented her from doing so.
“The President didn’t sound like Cory. He sounded like Marcos in 1972 on questions of political issues beyond the scope of the Supreme Court... Then he sounded like [former President Fidel] Ramos in 1997 that he is the only one that can continue the reforms,” Monsod said.
Monsod said Aquino should trust the people to choose a leader who can continue reforms that they want.
Monsod said Aquino, in his last two years as President, should instead focus on implementing social reforms to sustain inclusive growth.
While six years may be too short for a good President, Monsod said six years is too long for a bad one and extending the constitutional limit will only worsen the country’s problems.
He added that lifting term limits could actually make the pork barrel problem worse.
“If the President is allowed reelection, it’s an incentive for him, a very strong temptation to use his discretionary funds to assure his reelection. At the same time, he wants to clip the judicial review powers of the Supreme Court, what will happen? He will have his way in misusing people’s money,” Monsod said.
Monsod said the Supreme Court’s decision against the DAP should not be used as an excuse to clip its powers.
Disagrement among the three branches of government are natural and part of the system of checks and balances, he added.
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