PNoy on second term: ‘Not the right solution’

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III appears to have finally accepted public opinion and declared that running for second term in 2016 despite a constitutional prohibition “is not [the] right solution.”

“There are some quarters that were saying I should try and go for a second term. I don’t think that’s a right solution,” Aquino said as he answered questions from members of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines in Makati City on Tuesday.

Makati forum. President Benigno
Aquino III expresses his views during
the 13th CEO Forum and 118th General
Membership Meeting of the
Semiconductor and Electronics
Industries in the Philippines Inc.
at the Peninsula Manila hotel in
Makati. Malacañang Photo Bureau
“We all have a time card in this world and we have to prepare for the eventuality of being called to meet our Maker,” Aquino said, adding that the best way to sustain his reforms is by choosing the right candidate in 2016.

“I will vote for the right candidate. And if I can ask you also to discern properly as to who is extolling populist sentiments with no substance as opposed to [someone] who not only says the right things but whom you can trust to deliver the same,” Aquino said.

“So there has to be that continuation of people of like mind who will deliver on the promises that are real and not just self-serving or nice and pleasant to hear,” he said.

After hearing his answer, businessmen who attended the SEIP meeting said they thought Aquino meant he would not run again  in 2016 and the President’s statement was categorical.

It was the second time Aquino declared that he was not running for a second term after August 28 when he jokingly said in a radio interview that he was looking forward to July 1, 2016 when he steps down from office.

“One year and 10 months from now, I will be with Undersecretary Rey Marfil and Assistant Secretary Jun Delantar on July 1, the day after I step down from office. We will be eating something tasty, and there will be a streamer behind us bearing the word freedom,” Aquino said then.

The idea for Aquino to seek a second term was first broached by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, his defeated running mate in 2010 and presumptive LP presidential candidate in 2016, who declared on August 7 that there was “an overwhelming clamor for the President to run again.”

On August 13, Aquino himself appeared in an exclusive interview on TV5 and announced that he was open to amending the constitution to curb “judicial overreach” and allow him to run for a second term.

Aside from the expected resistance from the opposition, the declaration also upset allies, including Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. who said his proposed amendment of the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution will be derailed by moves to change political provisions.

On August 28, The New York Times put out an editorial, entitled “Political Mischief in the Philippines,” urging Aquino not to mess with the judiciary’s constitutional prerogatives and to step down when his term ends in 2016.

But Aquino himself fanned speculations on the possibility of a seeking a second term when he said that he will listen to the sentiments of his bosses, the Filipino people, while his allies continued to push for the amendment of term limits in the Constitution.

On Sept. 30, full-page ads appeared in major newspapers calling on at least eight million Filipinos to sign a petition urging Aquino to seek a second term because “PNoy is still the best and only successor.”

Malacañang Palace denied having anything to do with the ads and the newspapers said the ads were paid for by a newly-formed group calling itself “More2Come,” led by Liberal Party leaders from Caloocan City.

On Oct. 2, Pulse Asia released a survey,  conducted from Sept. 8 to 15, showing that six out of 10 Filipinos, or 62 percent, do not want a second term for President Benigno Aquino III even if the 1987 Constitution were amended.

Pulse Asia said the sentiment opposing a second term is reflected among all economic classes and all geographic areas across the country.

But Palace aides said after the survey the President preferred to get a “broader picture” of how the public felt about a second term because one survey might not be enough for him until he announced on Tuesday what appeared to be a final decision.

After his speech, the SEIP members lauded Aquino for his candor and noted the government’s investment in making Filipino workers more competitive at the regional level ahead of the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations markets.

In his speech Aquino also recognized the achievements of the country’s semiconductor and electronics industry, praising its resilience amid global economic uncertainties.

The President said the industry has been a true partner in the country’s pursuit of inclusive growth, providing direct employment to 331,000 Filipinos and indirect employment to another 2.3 million workers.

The industry is also responsible for a significant portion of the country’s exports, he said.

“Last year, total exports from the industry was recorded at almost $24 billion, which accounts for 42.2 percent of our country’s total exports, with early data giving us reason to be optimistic for an even stronger performance this year,” he said.

In turn, the government will help the industry maintain its momentum by ensuring that it has the manpower it needs, the President said, acknowledging the role of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in training workers employed by the industry.

He further noted that the Department of Science and Technology has set up the Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory, which semiconductor and electronics companies could use to test their products without going abroad.

He said the number of companies that have availed of the laboratory’s services has increased from 16 last year to 41 this year.

He further said that the government is establishing the Electronics Product Development Center in Bicutan to assist product designers in improving the quality of their designs, and is doing everything to meet the industry’s energy requirements by seeking authority from Congress to contract additional power reserves.

He also said that the Department of Energy has formed Task Force Electricity to harness the ideas of stakeholders, look into the cost components of electricity bills, and ultimately reduce the price of power.

“Rest assured, the government will continue to match your efforts, listen to your concerns, and do everything possible to give you even more reasons to operate here in the Philippines,” said the President.

SEIPI is the largest organization of foreign and Filipino semiconductor and electronics companies in the Philippines. Its members include Texas Instruments, HSDT Philippines Corp., Toshiba, Analog Devices, Amkor Technology, ON Semiconductor, Cebu Mitsumi, Fairchild Semiconductor, Cypress, Continental Temic, SunPower, Ionics, Sharp, and Samsung.

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