DESPITE a recent survey showing 62 percent of Filipinos oppose a second term for President Benigno Aquino III, a group of loyalists on Friday launched a drive to collect 8 million signatures from now until Nov. 30 to urge him to seek re-election.
Melvin Matibag and RJ Echiverri, both lawyers and lead conveners of Movement for Reform, Continuity and Momentum (More2Come), said the most viable way to effect a second term for the President is through a constituent assembly in which Congress will propose an amendment in the
Constitution to lift the one-term limit on the presidency.
“The President with his allies can deliver the necessary numbers to carry the amendments in both Houses,” Matibag said.
The group said they are behind a full-page advertisement pushing for another six-year term for the President.
Matibag is a former general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority during the Arroyo administration.
“Popular support for this move, which we feel is already there, can be harnessed through a signature campaign to gather 8 million signatures asking him to run again,” Matibag said.
He said the President is an honest man, and that he must sustain the momentum and continuity of his Tuwid na Daan or straight path of good governance.
More2Come urged all Filipinos to support their call for a term extension for the President.
“More2Come believes that if all who see the benefits of his leadership band together, it will be an irresistible force which even President Noynoy Aquino is bound to follow,” Matibag said.
The signature campaign has started in the National Capital Region.
“We will first gather an initial of 2 million votes for Metro Manila until Nov. 30, during which we will be presenting them to the President on Bonifacio Day,” he said.
Echiverri, a defeated mayoralty bet in Caloocan in the 2013 local elections under the Liberal Party, said the signature drive has nothing to do with the party, but is an initiative of lawyers.
“I am no longer part of any political party, When I lost in the elections, I already lost contact with them (LP). This is a personal decision,” he said.
Matibag denied they are being funded by the government.
On Friday, Senate President Franklin Drilon said he was sure the President was reading the surveys and would listen to what the people say.
He also said the President was averse to any constitutional amendment to allow him to run again.
In the House, opposition lawmakers urged the President “to stop hallucinating” about seeking a second term, given the results of the recent Pulse Asia survey.
At the same time, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent minority bloc, urged the President to heed the call of is “bosses” and not push his luck beyond 2016.
“The bosses say no to second term for the President. Isn’t it loud and clear? Better for the proponents to back off now so that we will not divide the nation once again,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez said some of Aquino’s allies were pushing Charter change because they are afraid of facing charges after the President’s term expires on June 30, 2016.
“The biggest problem of the administration is that if their presidential candidate would not win because surely, they would face charges. These people are afraid of losing power and that is the very reason why they are trying very hard or dead set in pushing the second term for the President,” Romualdez said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, member of the Makabayan Bloc, said the latest Pulse Asia survey indicating that six out 10 Filipinos do not want President Aquino to run for a second term in the elections reflects “the clear sentiments of the majority of our people.”
“Unfortunately, for an administration that does not want to become a lame duck in the run-up to 2016 and for a President who wants to escape accountability, such a clear message is immaterial and of no use,” Zarate said.
“The Aquino administration is clearly in a make-believe mode now and out of touch with reality,” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, also member of the Makabayan bloc, said the Filipino people will clearly oppose President Aquino if he seeks re-election.
Instead of listening to his chums, buddies and former classmates, he should start firing them, Colmenares said.
“President Aquino should wake up from his day dreaming and instead concentrate on solving the country’s problems,” he added
1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, members of the House minority bloc, said that any attempt of the President to stay in power beyond 2016 would be opposed by the people.
Bello also said that the Pulse Asia survey result was “expected” as the public appeared to have learned from history.
Albano said it is best for President Aquino to stay focused on attending to pressing issues and problems facing the nation.
The Pulse Asia survey, conducted from Sept. 8 to 15, showed that an even bigger majority – 70 percent – rejected Aquino’s attempts to limit the powers of the Supreme Court to review the actions of the Executive.
Opposition to a second term for President Aquino was highest in Luzon excluding Metro Manila, at 71 percent. In Metro Manila, it was 67 percent; in Mindanao, 52 percent; and in the Visayas, 50 percent.
Some 63 percent of respondents from Class A, B, and C households rejected a second term for the President. For class E, the poorest of the poor, the figure was 65 percent; for Class D, 61 percent. With Macon Ramos-Araneta
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