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‘No Mar-PNoy for 2016’

Belmonte junks Erice’s move as ‘very unlikely’

HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday dismissed as “very unlikely” at 2016 presidential ticket featuring Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and President Benigno Aquino III, as suggested by Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice.

“I have never heard of Roxas-Aquino or vice versa for 2016,” said Belmonte, vice chairman of the Liberal Party.

Belmonte also urged rabid supporters of the President to refrain from resurrecting the possibility of a term extension for Aquino through amendments to the Constitution.

Belmonte added that Aquino has already had his turn to serve the country.

Erice, who is pushing for a constitutional amendment to lift term limits, earlier said the ruling Liberal Party was considering a Roxas-Aquino ticket in 2016 to avoid the complication of Charter change.

But if the Liberals succeed in pushing Charter change, Erice added, they might opt for another round of Aquino-Roxas in 2016.

But Belmonte made it clear he was against amending the political provisions of the Constitution and a second term—or any other elective post--for Aquino.

He said he would rather that Congress attend to priority measures that will benefit the Filipino people and not to advance the interest of a few.

Belmonte also said there was not enough time to amend the Constitution to lift term limits.

Earlier, Belmonte challenged President Aquino to declare once and for all what his intentions are regarding the 2016 elections to put an end to the loose talk about a term extension.

He said the President should tell his “bosses” of any political ambitions in 2016 so they would know what to expect.

Senate President Franklin Drilon shared Belmonte’s view that there was not enough time to take up Charter change.

A recent Pulse Asia survey said that 62 percent of the respondents, or six out of 10 Filipinos, are against Charter change and are not in favor of President Aquino seeking a second term.

Despite survey findings, however, Malacañang has been sending mixed signals regarding the President’s intentions.

“Isn’t it the responsibility of the President to respond to the voices and sentiments of the people that he serves?” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

“This is a continuing process that the President has committed to undertake as part of his stewardship as the Chief Executive of the land,” he added.

He said the Pulse Asia survey may simply be part of an ongoing process of determining the sentiments of the people on Charter change and on a possible re-election bid of Aquino, but Coloma maintained the Palace was doing its own monitoring of public opinion.

Asked why the President would rather keep the issue hanging and give people mixed signals, Coloma said free speech and debates were part of a healthy democracy and not one sector, even government, has the monopoly on opinion.

“We should be comfortable in discussing issues like these and we should not get tired of tackling matters that have implications on the country’s future,” Coloma said.

He said the President was not getting distracted and remained focused on fulfilling his social contract with the people.

He said even Charter change and term extension debates should be taken in the context of Aquino’s desire to sustain reforms and make them felt by everyone.

But an administration ally, Quezon City Rep. Jorge Banal, also a Liberal, said he was opposed to a Roxas-Aquino tandem and said he believed Aquino was keen on retiring from politics as soon as his term ends in 2016.

“It has a certain ring to it but it is a long shot. Even if running for Vice President is allowed under the present system, and even if most agree that having him as VP will help protect the gains achieved by his administration, I do not think that this will be enough to convince the President to put his much-awaited retirement on hold,” Banal said.

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