BREAKING NEWS!!! FROM NO! TO YES!

AQUINO UNDOING OWN MOTHER'S LEGACY! BINAY: NO WAY!! 

AUGUST 14 --What would his mother say? That, in sum, is the oppositionists’ answer to President Aquino’s insinuation on Wednesday that he was reconsidering his opposition to amending the Constitution to allow the lifting of the presidential term limit, which would enable him to run for a second term. Legal experts are one in saying that Aquino would be undoing his mother’s legacy. Vice President Jejomar Binay, the 2016 presidential hopeful, said Thursday that he respected Aquino’s openness to listen to what the people had to say about amending the Constitution to lift the presidential term limit. “Any national leader would want to hear the voice of the people on issues that have far-reaching consequences,” Binay said.

“What is important is that the voice he hears is an authentic and genuine voice, not one manufactured by quarters with vested interests who are driven mainly by self-preservation,” he said. Binay’s allies, however, invoked history and urged Aquino to respect his mother’s legacy. The 1987 Constitution was enacted during the administration of Aquino’s mother, who led the revolution against dictator Ferdinand Marcos and then served a single term as President before standing aside. “When I first got into this, I noted I had only one term of six years. Now, after having said that, of course I have to listen to the voice of my bosses,” Aquino said in an interview on TV5 network, using his term for the people.

No strong candidate --Many took Aquino’s statement as an admission that the ruling Liberal Party (LP) has no presidential timber who could be elected to take his place in 2016, with polls showing Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the party’s presumptive standard-bearer, unpopular with the electorate. In contrast, the polls show Binay, leader of the nominally opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is the favorite to replace Aquino in Malacañang.
That is unacceptable to the Palace, which insists the next president must be someone who will pursue Aquino’s reformist programs.* CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Aquino open to 2nd term! President favors Charter change, restraint on Supreme Court !!

President Aquino is now amenable to amending the Constitution and extending his term apparently to check the power of the Supreme Court, a coequal of the executive branch.
The President said the judiciary appeared to be using its power to check the executive and legislative branches without restraint. “When I took this office, I recall that it was only for one term of six years,” he said on Wednesday in an exclusive interview with TV5.
“Now, after having said that, of course, I have to listen to my bosses [the people].”  But the President made it clear that his statement did not necessarily mean that “I would automatically go after an additional term.”  He said listening to his “bosses” meant asking them how the “reforms” he had started would remain beyond his six-year term.

For Aquino to make another run for the presidency, the term limits set by the 1987 Constitution would have to be lifted. He had consistently rejected moves to amend the Constitution, a position he now seems to be reconsidering.
“Before all of these happened, I admit I had a closed mind. But now I realized that there is judicial reach. Congress and the executive may act but they can be punished anytime,” he told TV5 legal analyst Mel Sta. Maria who asked if he was still not amenable to Charter change. The President was apparently referring to the Supreme Court ruling on July 1 that the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP), a Malacañang stimulus fund derived from government savings, was unconstitutional. Last November, the high court also declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund, a pork barrel of lawmakers, unconstitutional.

Using power more --The President complained that the judiciary seemed to be using its power to check and balance the executive and legislative branches “more often.” “It’s like instead of exercising restraint, [the judiciary is using] this power more often,” he said. “Now, as a result, the balance between the three branches appears to be gone.” CONTINUE READING...

(ALSO) Binay slams political Cha-cha

With the brewing talks about tinkering with the 1987 Constitution, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay yesterday said he will oppose any attempt to change the Charter’s political provisions, including the lifting of the six-year term limit of the country’s President. In opposing attempts to amend the political provisions of the Constitution, Binay said that such move “will be destabilizing and divisive at the very moment we need national unity.” “I have declared even before the President’s statement the other day my opposition to Charter change, except only on the economic provisions,” Binay, who has openly declared his plans to run for President in 2016, said. Opposition Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said President Aquino’s sudden openness to Charter change seems a subtle admission that the administration coalition has no potential contender for the presidency in the 2016 elections. “It looks like the Liberal Party is admitting they have no one in mind who is strong enough to be a presidential candidate, because they are pushing for a term extension,” Ejercito said. CHA-CHA DOWNPLAYED But Malacañang tried to downplay the Cha-cha issue, calling on critics to keep their cool as it clarified that the President Aquino is not about to pursue amendments to the Constitution anytime soon. Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte explained that the President merely mentioned that he was thinking of certain amendments to the Constitution, particularly related to the powers of the Supreme Court, but made no definite decision when it will be done. “He did not say anything about doing it tomorrow, doing it next week, doing it in the next few months,” Valte said in a Palace press briefing. CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS FEARED

Binay likewise lambasted “those advising President Aquino to pursue a course that will lead to a frontal confrontation with the Supreme Court (SC),” saying that they are only bringing the country “to the brink of a political and constitutional crisis.” Binay was reacting to Aquino’s reported plan to clip the “judicial overreach” of the SC which the President claimed has disrupted the balance among the three branches of government. “They are also putting in peril the President’s chance to leave a positive legacy to the people. 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,” Binay said in a statement. But President Aquino declared that the country is not on the brink of constitutional crisis, adding he prefers to promote peace rather than conflict in the country. “Wala pa naman tayo sa constitutional crisis [We are not yet in a constitutional crisis],” the President said in the third part of his interview with TV 5 network aired Friday night. The President explained that he strives to be the father of the nation who fosters peace among concerned parties. The Vice President stressed that “checks and balances are the foundations of democracy.” “When the Supreme Court declared (some acts under) the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, it was in exercise of its power and duty as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution ratified during the time of President Cory Aquino,” he said of Aquino’s late mother. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) What Went Before: The matter of Charter change   

PHOTO: CORY'S LEGACY  --A resolution seeking to amend the protectionist provisions and foreign participation limits in the Constitution has reached the plenary in the House of Representatives before Congress adjourned sine die in June. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was the principal author of the resolution that seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to the Constitution’s articles concerning the national economy and patrimony; education, science, technology, arts, culture and sports; and general provisions. This would not automatically remove the foreign ownership and participation limits as stipulated in the Charter. Congress would still have to pass laws to lift the restrictions and it may do this for the constitutional provisions that prevent foreigners from operating public utilities and educational institutions, and from undertaking activities to develop or utilize the country’s natural resources, for example.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate would tackle Charter change (Cha-cha) only after the House passed its measure. On Feb. 18, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, “Proposing amendments to certain restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution … specifically to Articles 12, 14 and 16 thereof.” But President Aquino has repeatedly declared his opposition to any attempt to amend the Constitution that was drafted and ratified during the term of his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

“(M)y stand has been (made) public for the longest time,” PNoy Aquino said in an interview with reporters following his speech at the anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Fort San Felipe, Cavite province, in May 2013. “I don’t think they (economic restrictions) are a necessary detriment to getting foreign investors in this country,” the President replied when asked about the pitch of Belmonte, his close ally and a Liberal Party stalwart, to amend the Constitution to attract foreign capital.

ALSO: Aquino says he wants friend to replace him; LP calls caucus 

President Aquino wants a “friend,” not a foe, to replace him in 2016. Aquino made that clear in Thursday’s continuation of his interview with the TV5 network where he also sought to play down reports that his sisters were endorsing Vice President Jejomar Binay, who had long declared that he would run for president in 2016. Aquino said he phoned his sisters Ballsy and Kris and was told, “[The] media just forced us to say something.” “The gist of what they said was, ‘If [Binay] would continue what our brother had done, thank you,’ or ‘it would be good’—which is not exactly the same as, ‘You should continue [what he had started],” Aquino said in Filipino. Binay earlier thanked the Aquino sisters for supporting his planned presidential run. Noting that he still had a year and 10 months left in office, the President kept his cards close to his chest on who he was eyeing to replace him, even if he himself was entertaining the possibility of a term extension.

In the first part of the TV interview on Wednesday, Aquino said he was now open to amending the Constitution to lift the presidential term limit and to clip the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review. His statements have drawn criticism from Binay’s camp, legal circles and the Catholic Church. No presidential candidate --Polls show that the ruling Liberal Party’s presumptive presidential candidate in 2016, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, is unpopular with the electorate, leaving Aquino as the party’s only hope of keeping Binay out of Malacañang. But Aquino did not say that he was going to run for a second term. Still, his Liberal Party (LP) allies wasted no time and called a party caucus at its “Balay” headquarters in Quezon City. “Now that the President has spoken, we will discuss this matter with the party so that we will be able to come up with a collective decision on the issue. Most likely, most of the members will support it,” Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, the party’s secretary general, said in a text message. There are 116 LP members, or 40 percent, in the 290-strong House of Representatives.Preferred successor ---In the continuation of the TV interview on TV5 on Thursday, Aquino gave an idea of the kind of successor he preferred. “Perhaps, the one that I would ask [to replace me] would be a friend of mine, not my enemy,” he said. “[But] I could promise him that there would be a big difference between [the kind of government] that I inherited and the one that he would.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Liberal Party House bloc eyes con-ass to speed up Cha Cha  

AUGUST 15 --Liberal Party congressmen and their allies are eyeing the convening of Congress into a constituent assembly to speed up Charter change (Cha-cha) and keep the Supreme Court (SC) from making any move to stop them. “I am proposing that instead of legislative Cha-cha, we convene ourselves, the Senate and the House of Representatives, into a con-ass, which is one of the Cha-cha modes clearly prescribed by the Constitution,” Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition said. The NPC is allied with the Liberal Party (LP). Albano said a constituent assembly or con-ass is faster to organize than Congress convening a constitutional convention (con-con), which involves the election of delegates and is more expensive to undertake.

“We need a faster mode, since we have only a year or, at most, a year and a half to do it. Only two years remain of President Aquino’s term. His declaration that he is open to Cha-cha is the game changer in this effort,” Albano said. He pointed out that con-ass is “safer and constitutionally compliant” than legislative Cha-cha, which is the proposed mode for changing the economic provisions of the Constitution. Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who filed a resolution seeking the convening of an elected con-con, said he is open to the con-ass mode. “I agree that it will be faster and less expensive,” he said. Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said Cha-cha “is very doable either through a constituent assembly or a people’s initiative.” “Now that President Aquino has spoken, we expect an avalanche of support from various sectors of society, especially from the grassroots level,” he said. REAAD MORE...

ALSO: LPs admit PNoy's their best bet in 2016; Mar, only second best 

PHOTO: PNoy distributes new rifles to soldiers. President Benigno Aquino III hands over a new M4 assault rifle to an Army soldier during a ceremonial distribution of new rifles to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, August 14. The new rifles will replace the old M16 model troops use in the frontlines.  Members of the Liberal Party said on Thursday that President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was still its best bet for the 2016 presidential elections. In Ruth Cabal's report on "24 Oras" on Thursday, members of the Liberal Party said that they would follow whatever the President's decides. But, most of the LP's members want Aquino to run for a second term.

"We're just putting our best player forward. In case this pushes, through we feel our best player is President Aquino," said LP official Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya. Abaya said the second best player was Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. Any extension of Aquino's stay in power would need a constitutional amendment. The Constitution provides for a lone six-year term for the Chief Executive. He or she isn't allowed to run for re-election. Roxas was Aquino's running mate in the 2010 elections. Roxas, however, lost to Vice President Jejomar Binay. According to one of its members and Caloocan representative, Edgar Erice said that there was an ongoing consultation among the Party's constituents and many were in favor of Aquino's re-election. In an interview with a television network on Wednesday, Aquino expressed his openness to a second term and Charter change, if that is what the public wants to the surprise to many, especially those from the opposition. Binay said it was important for the President to listen to the real voice of the Filipino people and not of those, who only want personal gain. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK.

ALSO Philstar Opinion: Thank you, Mr. President, for your humor, that was the funniest joke ever     

I received texts from friends about the latest faux pas of President Noynoy Aquino all with dire predictions and warnings. At first I wanted to cry and be angry, but after some thought, I changed my mind. Thank you Mr. President for your humor, this was the funniest joke yet. This was it! Nothing could beat the presidential statement on constitutional reform as proof that his matuwid na daan is not to be taken seriously. If you are not in active circles in social media you are missing a great deal of humor and laughter. That is a pity because according to experts, laughter prolongs life. It is impossible to put the illustrations in a column but you can guess what they are if I give you some titles like Voices — Cocaine? Grass? Speed? Shabu? Or the tyranny of the rabble? Or Kapit sa Patalim (an old one used in the fight against Marcos dictatorship). But here are some opinions that were expressed in words. This comes from a blog called “Crossroad Philippines,” The fight to oppose P-Noy’s second term, it’s now or never. With just three weeks after the palace invented an “extend P-Noy term campaign,” do you believe that there are pressing needs and reasons to push for the term extension? Are there bandwagon calls, or public cries expressed on rallies radio and TV programs, petitions or whatever form that led the president to take out his credibility to buy it?

Is it not really fantastic for the president to throw his hat in it? Isn’t he looking pretty much idiotic to let himself be carried away by that ‘staged’ clamor? Of course whoever plotted the idea are driven by fear and taking that desperate move to extend the president’s term as some self-preservation effort…. To push the campaign into fruition with only a suspicious clamor from paid netizens and fearful party mates is an exercise in futility while risking not only his family’s legacy but the tearing apart of the entire nation. Reactions to Aquino’s announcement brings anxiety to the people, the decent and the thinking class, but revelry for his allies who would unfortunately work tirelessly for the resurrection of PDAF and DAP. It would also cause the clipping of powers of the Supreme Court that would pave the way for the conjugal dictatorship of the executive and the legislature, of course with the ever blind allegiance of the fourth estate.“ “The Filipino people paid for democracy with blood, sweat and tears. They will not accept the false article of self-serving popular initiatives as a real example of democracy. Let this be the litmus test of all who seek to be President: an oath — here and now — that nothing they do shall benefit themselves, whether running the country, upholding the laws or changing the Constitution when necessary. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

‘Aquino undoing mother’s legacy’; Opposition reaction on second term: No way!


ARMED President Aquino and the Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. render the conventional military salute during arrival honors ahead of a distribution ceremony of M-4 assault rifles for soldiers at the Department of National Defense headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday. The President’s announcement that he may try to change the Constitution and serve a second term in office has drawn heavy flak. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, AUGUST 18, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Christine O. Avendaño, Leila B. Salaverria, Tarra Quismundo -  What would his mother say?

That, in sum, is the oppositionists’ answer to President Aquino’s insinuation on Wednesday that he was reconsidering his opposition to amending the Constitution to allow the lifting of the presidential term limit, which would enable him to run for a second term.

Legal experts are one in saying that Aquino would be undoing his mother’s legacy.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, the 2016 presidential hopeful, said Thursday that he respected Aquino’s openness to listen to what the people had to say about amending the Constitution to lift the presidential term limit.

“Any national leader would want to hear the voice of the people on issues that have far-reaching consequences,” Binay said.

“What is important is that the voice he hears is an authentic and genuine voice, not one manufactured by quarters with vested interests who are driven mainly by self-preservation,” he said.

Binay’s allies, however, invoked history and urged Aquino to respect his mother’s legacy.

The 1987 Constitution was enacted during the administration of Aquino’s mother, who led the revolution against dictator Ferdinand Marcos and then served a single term as President before standing aside.

“When I first got into this, I noted I had only one term of six years. Now, after having said that, of course I have to listen to the voice of my bosses,” Aquino said in an interview on TV5 network, using his term for the people.

No strong candidate

Many took Aquino’s statement as an admission that the ruling Liberal Party (LP) has no presidential timber who could be elected to take his place in 2016, with polls showing Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the party’s presumptive standard-bearer, unpopular with the electorate.

In contrast, the polls show Binay, leader of the nominally opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is the favorite to replace Aquino in Malacañang.

That is unacceptable to the Palace, which insists the next president must be someone who will pursue Aquino’s reformist programs.

* With Roxas losing the next presidential election even before the campaign can start, the administration has to find someone who can beat Binay in the race for Malacañang.

No question, that man is Aquino. But the Constitution bars him from running for a second term.

Aquino would have to go through a long and complicated process to amend the Constitution, with any of three potential methods—by a constitutional convention, a constituent assembly or a people’s initiative—having to be approved by a referendum requiring simple majority support.

The son of democracy champions Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino, Aquino won a landslide election victory in 2010 on a promise to stamp out widespread corruption blamed for massive poverty in the Philippines.

He has won international plaudits for his good government program and been widely applauded for bringing consistently strong economic growth to the country.

But the high popularity ratings he enjoyed in the first half of his term have begun to slide sharply amid a slew of corruption cases and political controversies.

The latest poll showed his approval rating at 56 percent in June, dropping steeply from 70 percent in March. His trust rating, too, was down across the board, from 62 percent to 42 percent in the upper classes to 55 percent from 69 percent in the bottom rung.

Criticism that tens of millions of poor people have missed out on the country’s economic gains, magnified by a recent spike in inflation, has also hurt Aquino.

And now he is talking about listening to his “bosses” and lifting the barrier that keeps him from seeking a second term.

Aquino did not specify that he wanted to change the Constitution just to remove the presidential term limit.

Instead, he said the Constitution needed amending to rein in the Supreme Court, which ruled on July 1 that his economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), was unconstitutional.

“Before all these things happened, I was closed to [constitutional change]. I admit that. But now, I’m seriously rethinking things,” Aquino said in his television interview, referring to the court’s ruling against the DAP.

He complained that the US-style checks and balances in government had faded and the Supreme Court now had the power to overrule Congress and the executive branch.

Checks and balances

But UNA members opposed Aquino’s threat to clip the Supreme Court’s powers, saying the judiciary has those powers precisely to provide checks and balances to excesses in the two other branches of government.

Sen. JV Ejercito said he hoped Aquino remembered his mother, who served only one term and never sought reelection.

The LP must also remember the “democratic essence” of Edsa, he added, referring to the 1986 People Power Revolution that Aquino’s mother led to restore democracy in the Philippines.

Ejercito also said Aquino’s supporters should stop urging him to extend his term, as this would lead to popular anger against the President.

“Have a heart and remember what Cory fought for,” Ejercito said, referring to the President’s late mother.

Emulate your mother

Sen. Nancy Binay, a daughter of the Vice President, said she hoped Aquino would emulate his mother, who refused to seek a second term although she could have, enhancing her legacy.

“When she stepped down, she was able to do more,” Binay said.

She said she did not think Aquino would actually run for a second term, noting that the President’s statements indicated he was just considering things.

“I hope he leans more toward not pushing through with it,” Binay said. “Let’s pray for the President so that he will be enlightened and he will listen to the real voices of his bosses.”

Undoing Cory’s legacy

Legal experts said Aquino would undo his mother’s legacy if he allowed constitutional change to be able to run for a second term.

“What had been prevented by Cory, [President Noy wants to do],” Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Vicente Joyas said, using the nicknames of the President and his mother.

Joyas said the term limit that the Constitution imposed on the President was aimed at preventing a return to the dictatorship that Aquino’s mother helped to defeat.

The Constitution also grants the Supreme Court the power of judicial review, which is “meant to curtail the abuse of the executive branch, based on the experience of Cory and those who drafted” the Charter, Joyas said.

He said Aquino’s view that the judiciary was such a strong branch that it was shaking the acts of both the executive and the legislative was wrong.

“If you look at the Constitution, you will see that the weakest branch is the judiciary,” Joyas said.

He said the bar would study the legality of the move to amend the Constitution.

“Once we see any violation of the Charter, we will file a petition in the Supreme Court,” Joyas said.

He said, however, that he doubted there was still time to complete the amendment of the Constitution in time for the 2016 presidential election.

Avarice for power

Lawyer Harry Roque, one of the petitioners in the DAP case in the Supreme Court, said the 1987 Constitution was the living legacy of Aquino’s mother.

“The single term for the President is intended as a guard against avarice for power. Unfortunately [President Aquino] fell for it, and is now going against his mom’s legacy,” Roque said.

Sol Mawis, dean of Lyceum of the Philippines College of Law, said the Supreme Court just did its job in ruling against the DAP and its ruling was based on the Constitution.

“When the Supreme Court reviewed and checked the acts of the executive, the review was within the Constitution itself. Precisely, the DAP decision is an example of checks and balances,” Mawis said.

“The Supreme Court just did what they’re supposed to do: To interpret and apply the law,” she added.

Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, dean of San Beda Graduate Law School, said he would join street protests if Aquino proceeded with the plan to amend the Constitution.

He said Aquino was “consistent in his inconsistency.”

“After repeatedly rejecting Charter amendments, [the President] springs on the nation another surprise. He is open to Charter change if this benefits him in two ways: extends his term and keeps the judiciary in subservience to his caprice,” Father Aquino said.

Judiciary’s powers

Tony La Viña, dean of Ateneo de Manila University College of Law, said on his Facebook and Twitter accounts that he supported constitutional changes but not efforts to clip the Supreme Court’s powers.

“The power of judicial review does not exist because of the Constitution but by virtue of judicial power. Even if you do away with the current constitutional provision defining judicial power and include within it the power of judicial review, the Supreme Court can still exercise that power as the [judiciary] must do so to resolve actual cases and controversies,” La Viña said.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, an administration ally, said he was open to constitutional change but this should not be limited to the economic provisions. He said there should be amendments to the political provisions as well.

One idea that could be considered, he said, is giving the President two four-year terms. With two terms, the run for a second term would serve as a referendum on the President’s performance, he said.

But Pimentel said he did not believe Aquino would take advantage of a chance to run for a second term.

As for revisiting the power of judicial review, Pimentel said this could be done though he believed it was important to have a judiciary to which people could run for redress.

Pimentel opposed the postponement of elections, saying it could not be justified.

Joseph Estrada’s view

Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, one of the leaders of UNA, said Thursday that amending the Constitution was a “no-no.”

Estrada said Aquino should “stick” to the current Constitution as his mother had faithfully abided by it.

“The Constitution is clear. A President can serve only one term of six years,” Estrada said.

Military neutral

The military assured the nation that it would not interfere in the fresh controversy over constitutional change.

“That is something very political,” said Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“These are a product of a vibrant democracy, of the political dynamics that is now happening in our country so we remain apolitical, nonpartisan,” Catapang said.–With reports from Jerome Aning, Nathaniel R. Melican, Cynthia D. Balana and Miguel Camus in Manila; Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon; and AFP

Aquino open to 2nd term; President favors Charter change, restraint on Supreme Court  By Christian V. Esguerra |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:40 am | Thursday, August 14th, 2014


President Aquino: From no to yes. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino is now amenable to amending the Constitution and extending his term apparently to check the power of the Supreme Court, a coequal of the executive branch.

The President said the judiciary appeared to be using its power to check the executive and legislative branches without restraint.

“When I took this office, I recall that it was only for one term of six years,” he said on Wednesday in an exclusive interview with TV5.

“Now, after having said that, of course, I have to listen to my bosses [the people].”

But the President made it clear that his statement did not necessarily mean that “I would automatically go after an additional term.”

He said listening to his “bosses” meant asking them how the “reforms” he had started would remain beyond his six-year term.

For Aquino to make another run for the presidency, the term limits set by the 1987 Constitution would have to be lifted.

He had consistently rejected moves to amend the Constitution, a position he now seems to be reconsidering.

“Before all of these happened, I admit I had a closed mind. But now I realized that there is judicial reach. Congress and the executive may act but they can be punished anytime,” he told TV5 legal analyst Mel Sta. Maria who asked if he was still not amenable to Charter change.

The President was apparently referring to the Supreme Court ruling on July 1 that the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP), a Malacañang stimulus fund derived from government savings, was unconstitutional.

Last November, the high court also declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund, a pork barrel of lawmakers, unconstitutional.

Using power more

The President complained that the judiciary seemed to be using its power to check and balance the executive and legislative branches “more often.”

“It’s like instead of exercising restraint, [the judiciary is using] this power more often,” he said.

“Now, as a result, the balance between the three branches appears to be gone.”

* Aquino earlier warned of a “collision” between the executive and the judiciary following the high court decision declaring his DAP unconstitutional.

He repeatedly slammed the Supreme Court over the decision and warned that such a collision might require the “intervention” of Congress.

The Palace has asked the Supreme Court to reverse its 13-0 ruling against the DAP.

Pending the resolution of the motion for reconsideration, the President, in his State of the Nation Address, asked Congress to pass a supplemental budget to cover projects previously funded under the DAP.

He also asked the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass a joint resolution clarifying and defining concepts such as savings and when the government could declare them.

Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier slammed calls for a term extension for Aquino, saying “it was a selfish proposal to begin with, motivated more by personal rather than national interest.”

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Binay slams political Cha-cha by JC Bello Ruiz & Genalyn D. Kabiling
August 16, 2014

We’re not yet in a constitutional crisis – Aquino


BINAY

With the brewing talks about tinkering with the 1987 Constitution, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay yesterday said he will oppose any attempt to change the Charter’s political provisions, including the lifting of the six-year term limit of the country’s President.

In opposing attempts to amend the political provisions of the Constitution, Binay said that such move “will be destabilizing and divisive at the very moment we need national unity.”

“I have declared even before the President’s statement the other day my opposition to Charter change, except only on the economic provisions,” Binay, who has openly declared his plans to run for President in 2016, said.

Opposition Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said President Aquino’s sudden openness to Charter change seems a subtle admission that the administration coalition has no potential contender for the presidency in the 2016 elections.

“It looks like the Liberal Party is admitting they have no one in mind who is strong enough to be a presidential candidate, because they are pushing for a term extension,” Ejercito said.

CHA-CHA DOWNPLAYED

But Malacañang tried to downplay the Cha-cha issue, calling on critics to keep their cool as it clarified that the President Aquino is not about to pursue amendments to the Constitution anytime soon.

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte explained that the President merely mentioned that he was thinking of certain amendments to the Constitution, particularly related to the powers of the Supreme Court, but made no definite decision when it will be done.

“He did not say anything about doing it tomorrow, doing it next week, doing it in the next few months,” Valte said in a Palace press briefing.

CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS FEARED

Binay likewise lambasted “those advising President Aquino to pursue a course that will lead to a frontal confrontation with the Supreme Court (SC),” saying that they are only bringing the country “to the brink of a political and constitutional crisis.”

Binay was reacting to Aquino’s reported plan to clip the “judicial overreach” of the SC which the President claimed has disrupted the balance among the three branches of government.

“They are also putting in peril the President’s chance to leave a positive legacy to the people. 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,” Binay said in a statement.

But President Aquino declared that the country is not on the brink of constitutional crisis, adding he prefers to promote peace rather than conflict in the country.

“Wala pa naman tayo sa constitutional crisis [We are not yet in a constitutional crisis],” the President said in the third part of his interview with TV 5 network aired Friday night.

The President explained that he strives to be the father of the nation who fosters peace among concerned parties.

The Vice President stressed that “checks and balances are the foundations of democracy.”

“When the Supreme Court declared (some acts under) the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, it was in exercise of its power and duty as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution ratified during the time of President Cory Aquino,” he said of Aquino’s late mother.

* Binay was one of the trusted men of the late President Aquino who led a revolutionary government after the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos was ousted by a civilian uprising in 1986.

“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 wills of one branch, or of one man as was the case during martial law,” he added.

Binay said that “as one of those who fought for freedom and democracy during martial law,” he appreciates the powers vested in the Supreme Court by the 1987 Constitution.

SAFEGUARD VS DICTATORSHIP

“It enshrines the hopes of the millions of Filipinos who made the 1986 EDSA Revolution possible for a strong judicial institution as the best safeguard against dictatorship in whatever form. As a lawyer, I firmly believe that a democracy obligates the three co-equal branches – executive, judiciary, and legislature – to respect each one’s independence and recognize each one’s powers, duties and limitations set by the Constitution,” Binay said.

While he respects the views “of those who complain of judicial overreach as well as those who believe in lifting presidential term limits,” Binay said that “purely partisan considerations” should not be allowed “to erode the institutions that guarantee our freedoms.”

“A healthy democracy will benefit the people… I pray for sober reflection to restrain abrupt political initiatives. We must never allow purely partisan considerations to erode the institutions that guarantee our freedoms,” he said.

In the same TV5 network interview aired Friday night, the President said he did not pose any objection to congressional moves to probe the Judicial Development Fund (JDF) as well as the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) request to acquire the State of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of SC justices.

Aquino recognized the prerogative of Congress to probe the JDF since it has the power of the purse. He noted that the JDF has long been an issue in Congress amid concerns it has not been transparent.

On the SALN, Aquino said all government officials are required to file their SALNs every year and make them available to the public.

The President was earlier criticized for supposedly sending his alleged attack dogs against the Supreme Court following its decision declaring parts of the DAP unconstitutional. Aquino has openly challenged the High Court decision, saying it might put the country’s economy on a state of paralysis.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., a political ally of the President, initiated an inquiry into the JDF, but Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P.A. Sereno, an Aquino appointee, snubbed the House inquiry.

BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, on the other hand, sought copies of the SALNs of the SC justices but the High Court rejected her request for lack of sufficient basis.

Henares had earlier denied her request was connected with the SC’s decision against the President’s economic stimulus program.

TERM EXTENSION REJECTED

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), meanwhile, said President Aquino should endorse his successor in 2016 rather than extend his term.

“It is best for him to just endorse a new leader who would faithfully continue his fight against corruption,” Bishop Efraim Tendero, PCEC national director, said in an interview.

“I’m praying and hoping that President Aquino would finish well as good leader and what he started in the struggle to ‘daang matuwid’ (straight path) by sticking to his word of passing the baton smoothly to his successor,” he added.

Last Thursday, President Aquino said that he is inclined to endorse a “friend” as his successor when his term ends in 2016. He said this a day after he expressed openness to the idea of amending the Constitution in order to extend his term and clip the power of the SC.

The PCEC official also asked the Chief Executive not to allow himself to be corrupted by misleading voices of some people to trample on the law of the land for personal interests. (With reports from Hannah L. Torregoza, Leslie Ann G. Aquino, and Niño N. Luces)

What Went Before: The matter of Charter change  Philippine Daily Inquirer3:24 am | Friday, July 25th, 2014

A resolution seeking to amend the protectionist provisions and foreign participation limits in the Constitution has reached the plenary in the House of Representatives before Congress adjourned sine die in June.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was the principal author of the resolution that seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to the Constitution’s articles concerning the national economy and patrimony; education, science, technology, arts, culture and sports; and general provisions.

This would not automatically remove the foreign ownership and participation limits as stipulated in the Charter. Congress would still have to pass laws to lift the restrictions and it may do this for the constitutional provisions that prevent foreigners from operating public utilities and educational institutions, and from undertaking activities to develop or utilize the country’s natural resources, for example.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate would tackle Charter change (Cha-cha) only after the House passed its measure.

On Feb. 18, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, “Proposing amendments to certain restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution … specifically to Articles 12, 14 and 16 thereof.”

But President Aquino has repeatedly declared his opposition to any attempt to amend the Constitution that was drafted and ratified during the term of his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

“(M)y stand has been (made) public for the longest time,” Aquino said in an interview with reporters following his speech at the anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Fort San Felipe, Cavite province, in May 2013.

“I don’t think they (economic restrictions) are a necessary detriment to getting foreign investors in this country,” the President replied when asked about the pitch of Belmonte, his close ally and a Liberal Party stalwart, to amend the Constitution to attract foreign capital.

* The President even cited a survey among foreign chambers of commerce in the country to demonstrate that the Constitution was not the root of the ills plaguing the Philippines.

“Our earlier studies on that [showed that] various chambers of commerce in the country have indicated a lot of issues and the so-called economic provisions [were] very low on the priority [scale],” the President said.

What the business community was worrying about were things other than Cha-cha, Aquino said.

“They cited, at the time, the [inefficient] bureaucracy, the peace and order situation, amongst others, lack of infrastructure,” he said.

In 2012, two weeks before the President was to face Congress to deliver his annual State of the Nation Address, Belmonte teamed up with then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in rallying support for Cha-cha.

Malacañang quickly responded by declaring that Cha-cha was not a priority of the Aquino administration. Unperturbed, the duo even sought an audience with the President in Malacañang.

In July 2012, Belmonte and Enrile attended a closed-door meeting with Aquino and they were politely rebuffed by the President.

“I stated my opposition, but we agreed to have the underlying basis studied by the economic and legal clusters [of the Cabinet and] with private sector participation, upon the suggestion of both the Senate President and the Speaker,” the President said.–Inquirer Research

Aquino says he wants friend to replace him; LP calls caucus
By Christian V. Esguerra |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:36 am | Friday, August 15th, 2014


President Aquino wants a “friend,” not a foe, to replace him in 2016.

MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino wants a “friend,” not a foe, to replace him in 2016.

Aquino made that clear in Thursday’s continuation of his interview with the TV5 network where he also sought to play down reports that his sisters were endorsing Vice President Jejomar Binay, who had long declared that he would run for president in 2016.

Aquino said he phoned his sisters Ballsy and Kris and was told, “[The] media just forced us to say something.”

“The gist of what they said was, ‘If [Binay] would continue what our brother had done, thank you,’ or ‘it would be good’—which is not exactly the same as, ‘You should continue [what he had started],” Aquino said in Filipino.

Binay earlier thanked the Aquino sisters for supporting his planned presidential run.

Noting that he still had a year and 10 months left in office, the President kept his cards close to his chest on who he was eyeing to replace him, even if he himself was entertaining the possibility of a term extension.

In the first part of the TV interview on Wednesday, Aquino said he was now open to amending the Constitution to lift the presidential term limit and to clip the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review.

His statements have drawn criticism from Binay’s camp, legal circles and the Catholic Church.

No presidential candidate

Polls show that the ruling Liberal Party’s presumptive presidential candidate in 2016, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, is unpopular with the electorate, leaving Aquino as the party’s only hope of keeping Binay out of Malacañang.

But Aquino did not say that he was going to run for a second term.

Still, his Liberal Party (LP) allies wasted no time and called a party caucus at its “Balay” headquarters in Quezon City.

“Now that the President has spoken, we will discuss this matter with the party so that we will be able to come up with a collective decision on the issue. Most likely, most of the members will support it,” Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, the party’s secretary general, said in a text message.

There are 116 LP members, or 40 percent, in the 290-strong House of Representatives.

Preferred successor

In the continuation of the TV interview on TV5 on Thursday, Aquino gave an idea of the kind of successor he preferred.

“Perhaps, the one that I would ask [to replace me] would be a friend of mine, not my enemy,” he said. “[But] I could promise him that there would be a big difference between [the kind of government] that I inherited and the one that he would.”

* Binay said he was also open to tapping Roxas for a running mate in the event that his United Nationalist Alliance joined forces with the LP.

“Nothing is impossible in politics. Everything is possible,” Binay said.

Aquino said that while the Constitution has provisions that need “fine-tuning,” it is possible that “the good [ones] might be diluted.”

“Once you open one part, everything else follows,” he said. “Now, before you risk the good [provisions], you have to show that there’s an imperative, that it’s very important to change [a certain provision] because it poses danger to the people.”

“If that cannot be shown, perhaps it would not be right to risk the good provisions,” he said.

Full support

The LP’s Sarmiento said that he fully supported the President’s move to amend the Constitution not only to clip the powers of the Supreme Court but also to allow him to run for a second term if there was a strong public clamor for it.

But some LP leaders, notably Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who pushed for Charter change though only to amend economic provisions, have yet to make up their minds on a second term for Aquino.

“I’m still trying to take it all in. It’s not so easy to amend the Constitution,” said Belmonte who, prior to the President’s announcement, dismissed talks of amending the one-term limit as “hot air.”

‘Exciting turn of events’

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, one of the leaders of the LP’s Visayas bloc, was optimistic that the President’s announcement would “solidify” the party’s stand on Charter change. “At least he said that he’s open. That is already a sign for us LP members to go back to our districts and make consultations at the grassroots level. If there is strong demand and general support, then we can move forward,” Treñas said.

Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, who was among the first to push the “One More Term” clamor, cheered the President’s statement.

“I’m sure it will gather support in both houses. We have a determined President with a strong sense of political will. This is democracy in action. Exciting turn of events,” Erice said.

“The President cannot just let the process of transformation and progress be wasted as the remnants of the traditional corrupt leaders are salivating on the prospect of returning to their old ways,” he said.

Not unprecedented

House Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao said President Aquino may succeed where former President Fidel V. Ramos failed.

Aggabao said Aquino’s idea of amending the Constitution to extend the presidential term limit was not “unprecedented.”

“FVR tried it before, with disastrous results. This time, it’s different. I sense there is a genuine interest from many sectors to give [Aquino] another term,” said Aggabao, a representative from Isabela and member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

He said the reason proffered by the President for Charter change, to protect the executive from judicial overreach, was “actually very astute.”

“His reason would resonate well in Congress because many members also believe the power of judicial review has made the Supreme Court overly powerful and that there is a serious need to clearly set the parameters of the balance between Congress and the judiciary,” Aggabao said.

“Of course, [Aquino’s Charter amendment] would surely connect with other amendments as well, like the changes to economic provisions that the Speaker has been pushing. Overall, I think the time for [amendments] has come,” he said.

In his final years in office, Ramos attempted to muster support for constitutional amendments allowing a term extension but widespread protests led by Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, thwarted him.

It was just a joke

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello believes Aquino was just joking when he said he was now open to constitutional amendment and a second term.

“I think the President is just having a bit of fun, having his allies, the opposition and the media hanging on to his every word,” said Bello, a member of the ruling coalition in the House. “If I were in his place, I’d get my kicks the same way.”

Bello said he pitied Binay, who “must be having sleepless nights.”

He, however, made it clear that Akbayan was opposed to any changes in the 1987 Constitution that would allow Aquino to run for a second term.

“The man’s not ambitious,” he said, referring to Aquino.

But other lawmakers took the President’s words seriously.

Arroyo moment

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio described Aquino’s pronouncement as his “Arroyo moment,” referring to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“This is Aquino’s Arroyo moment. His complete reversal on his declared stand against Charter change in order to seek another term echoes former President Arroyo reneging on her Rizal Day promise not to run again,” he said.

Arroyo famously pledged on Dec. 30, 2002, that she would not run in the 2004 elections, a promise she eventually broke.
“This is Aquino breaking his oath to preserve and defend the Constitution,” Tinio said.

On the other hand, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon found a parallel to Aquino’s position in another former president.

“Aquino’s duplicity reminds us of how [Ferdinand] Marcos used good intentions to justify a term extension. We all know how that part of history played out,” he said.

“Aquino is delusional. He thinks that he is the sole guardian of the Philippines and that the Filipino people are calling for him to extend his term and save us all from unspeakable evils. Mr. President, the calls for your reelection are coming from your own backyard. The vast majority of the Filipino people actually want you out,” Ridon said.

Outpouring of support

But Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said he now expected an outpouring of support for Aquino’s reelection.

“Six years is too short for a good president. And President Aquino is a very good President. We should sustain the momentum of our economic growth to benefit the larger masses of our people,” he said.

“Charter change is very doable either through a people’s initiative or constituent assembly. Now that President Aquino has spoken, we can expect an avalanche of support from various sectors of society, especially in the grassroots level,” Evardone said.

Sen. Sonny Angara, an administration ally, said Aquino and the Liberal Party may just be testing the waters when they floated the idea of a second term.

“[It must be a trial balloon for] term extension [and they want to] see if it will fly with the public. Whether it will fly or not, well, that remains to be seen,” Angara said.

He said Aquino may have realized that he wanted to do more as he neared the end of his term, but the President’s openness to a second term did not mean he would actually run again.

Personal stake

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya said he supported the idea of a second term for Aquino.

“He is our chairman. What is consistent in the LP is we have a personal stake and we will ensure that [good government] will continue,” Abaya said.

He denied that the LP has no presidential candidate in 2016.

“We have a very deep bench in the LP. We are just putting our best player forward. In case this pushes through, our best player is President Aquino. And you know who our second best player is? Secretary Roxas,” he said.

Malacañang rejected the idea that President Aquino was now open to a term extension only because of the administration’s “shallow bench,” particularly the idea that Roxas was unlikely to win the 2016 presidential election.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said “the more correct perspective” was the President’s “desire to continue the reforms he has started and ensure that they become permanent.”

“On the issue at hand, what’s important for the President is to get the public pulse. That is what’s primarily on the mind of our President,” Coloma told reporters.

No ‘messianic tendencies’

Coloma kept repeating the same line when bombarded by questions on the President’s apparent change of mind.

He said entertaining ideas for another term to continue the reforms he had started did not indicate the President’s “messianic tendencies.”

“He didn’t say that only he would do that,” Coloma said. “His platform [of government] is his social contract with the Filipino people. What he said was his objective to change and provide transformation to our society.”

Asked if Binay should feel “insulted” by Aquino’s new openness to term extension, Coloma said: “The Vice President himself issued a statement saying he respects the President’s decision.”

Coloma insisted that Aquino remained “consistent” with his desire to “listen to his bosses” as “one of the basic principles of his governance.”–With reports from Gil Cabacungan, DJ Yap, Leila B. Salaverria and Miguel Camus

FROM PHILSTAR

LP House bloc eyes con-ass By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 15, 2014 - 12:00am 0 7 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Liberal Party congressmen and their allies are eyeing the convening of Congress into a constituent assembly to speed up Charter change (Cha-cha) and keep the Supreme Court (SC) from making any move to stop them.

“I am proposing that instead of legislative Cha-cha, we convene ourselves, the Senate and the House of Representatives, into a con-ass, which is one of the Cha-cha modes clearly prescribed by the Constitution,” Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition said. The NPC is allied with the Liberal Party (LP).

Albano said a constituent assembly or con-ass is faster to organize than Congress convening a constitutional convention (con-con), which involves the election of delegates and is more expensive to undertake.

“We need a faster mode, since we have only a year or, at most, a year and a half to do it. Only two years remain of President Aquino’s term. His declaration that he is open to Cha-cha is the game changer in this effort,” Albano said.

He pointed out that con-ass is “safer and constitutionally compliant” than legislative Cha-cha, which is the proposed mode for changing the economic provisions of the Constitution.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who filed a resolution seeking the convening of an elected con-con, said he is open to the con-ass mode. “I agree that it will be faster and less expensive,” he said.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said Cha-cha “is very doable either through a constituent assembly or a people’s initiative.”

“Now that President Aquino has spoken, we expect an avalanche of support from various sectors of society, especially from the grassroots level,” he said.

* He said Aquino should be allowed to seek a second term.

“Six years is too short for a good president. And PNoy is a very good President,” he stressed.

Under the legislative Cha-cha mechanism and unlike in con-ass, the two chambers of Congress meet and vote separately to approve constitutional amendment proposals.

The process is like legislation. However, unlike in legislation where the vote required is a majority of quorum, the required vote to approve a Cha-cha proposal is three-fourths of all the members of each chamber.

Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, who was the first in the House of Representatives to push for extending Aquino’s term, said he might file soon a resolution on lifting term limits.

“As I said before, the President cannot just let the process of transformation and progress be wasted as the remnants of the traditional corrupt leaders are salivating on the prospect of returning to their old ways,” Erice said.

Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said Aquino simply wants to curb “abuses” by the judiciary.

“As it is, aside from the threat of impeachment and self-imposed restraint by the court itself, there’s no way we can check the SC,” Batocabe said.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, dean emeritus of the Ateneo law school and a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that wrote the Constitution, has asserted that legislative Cha-cha could be constitutional.

However, he said this mode has never been tried. To avoid a constitutional challenge and a possible defeat in the Supreme Court, Albano said Congress should opt for the con-ass mode.

He said congressional leaders should agree as soon as possible on when to convene the two chambers as a constituent body.

He said the Senate and the House could work simultaneously on legislation and on Cha-cha proposals.

He added that he is open to giving the president two six-year terms, instead of just one, to allow the chief executive to sustain the reforms he has started.

He stressed that a con-ass would have the power to review the entire Charter.

Rodriguez, who is president of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines, said he is personally also open to “giving the President, not only President Aquino but his successors as well, two terms.”

“The proposal of our party is for a shift to a parliamentary-federal type of government. If we adopt that system, President Aquino could run for parliament and be prime minister,” he said.

“The prime minister will have no term limit. We will have to discuss this proposal again,” he added.

Rodriguez said a parliamentary system is ideal for the country, “since it eliminates gridlock in legislation and governance because the prime minister and his Cabinet come from parliament.”

He added that a shift in style of government could be to a federal-presidential system just like in the United States.

He pointed out that under such setup, Aquino could seek a second term if the proposed two terms for the president would be approved.

Surprised

But for some senior administration lawmakers, President Aquino’s announcement was unexpected.

“The announcement took us by surprise,” a stalwart of the LP who declined to be identified told The STAR.

“I fear that the leadership and the entire party will be divided – on one side, the voice of reason, the other, troublemakers,” the lawmaker said.

He said the turn of events left many of his colleagues in the party confused.

Many pro-administration lawmakers who normally would readily grant interviews to defend Aquino were suddenly media-shy yesterday. Some who did answer questions from journalists requested that they not be named and their answers kept off the record.

Many of them, however, pointed to a “small group” within the LP led by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad as being responsible for controversial developments under the administration, including the President’s change of mind on Cha-cha.

Another LP lawmaker said Aquino’s citing the need to clip the powers of the Supreme Court to justify Charter change was “just an alibi.”

Earlier, Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II warned that moves to tamper with the political provisions of the Constitution would endanger an ongoing legislative process to ease the restrictive economic provisions.

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian called Aquino’s change of heart “political suicide” and announced he was no longer supporting the planned amendment to the economic provisions of the Constitution.

He reminded Aquino of failed attempts to lift term limits for presidents through Charter change. He said the administration could be making its own attempt to amend the Charter because its presumptive standard bearer in 2016 is trailing in surveys.

“Charter Change for term extension will obliterate PNoy’s good name and legacy,” Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said.

Youth Against Poverty and Corruption party-list Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez said Aquino is treading on dangerous ground with his sanctioning initiatives to amend political provisions of the Charter.

“From the start I am open to the economic overhauling of the Constitution’s provisions. But touching the political side, the term limits in particular, at this point in time when elections are a year and half away is most certainly not appropriate,” Lopez said.

Testing waters

For Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, President Aquino and his LP allies may be testing the waters by voicing their openness to term extension though Charter change.

“It is difficult to decipher the President’s intentions when he says he is open to a second term but he and the LP may be testing the waters, so to speak,” Angara said.

“They may be floating a trial balloon of term extension to see if it will fly with the public. Whether it will fly or not, well, that remains to be seen and only time will tell,” he added.

“Perhaps as he nears the end of his term he realizes he wants to do more. The statement that he is open to a second term does not necessarily mean he will run again, as he has also repeatedly said he is looking forward to stepping down in 2016,” Angara added.

On the President’s expressing his wish to have the powers of the SC clipped, Angara said it was the 1987 Constitution that gave “vast judicial review powers” to the High Tribunal.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said he is not in favor of changing the Constitution to dilute the powers of the SC.

He said that if the administration is not happy with the Charter, any changes “should be in the entirety of the Constitution and not pretend that we will limit it to the economic provision.”

Pimentel even recommended that the chief executive be allowed to serve two-terms of four years each. “Why not go back to two four-year terms so that the election of the sitting president would be a referendum or a review of his performance for the first four-year term?” Pimentel added.

He said a no election scenario should be avoided at all cost.

Administration ally Sen. Francis Escudero, in Davao City for the Kadayawan festival, also expressed surprise at the President’s announcement.

But Escudero understood this to be real politik in order for the President not to be treated like a lame duck in his last two years in office.

He also said he is neither for term extension nor for curtailing SC’s powers. “What will happen to our country if we reduce the powers of the Supreme Court?”

Enlightenment

Opposition Sen. Nancy Binay expressed hopes President Aquino would see the light and follow the examples of his parents.

“PNoy witnessed history from the point of view of his parents. Sen. Ninoy and President Cory fought a regime that believed it had the sole franchise to make the country great,” Binay said in a text message.

“President Noy would honor what his parents stood and died for by continuing their crusade,” she added.

She said President Aquino may have been egged on to support the lifting of term limits through Charter change by politicians desperate for getting his endorsement.

“I am praying that PNoy will not allow his parents’ good name to get tarnished by accommodating people with no chances of winning in honest elections,” she said.

Senate acting minority leader Vicente Sotto III said he “seriously doubts if the President will cross the legacy of President Cory.”

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed surprise that the President had changed his mind but stressed “my position will depend on what amendments are proposed.”

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said he is in favor of amending only the economic provisions of the Constitution. “Definitely, I will oppose efforts to revise the political component of our Constitution,” Ejercito said.

“Those who are urging the President to extend his term should refrain from doing so, to spare the President from the people’s anger over this issue,” he said. – Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Alexis Romero, Edith Regalado

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

LPs admit PNoy's their best bet in 2016; Mar, only second best
August 14, 2014 7:36pm 220 3 0 340  Tags: Benigno Aquino III


PNoy distributes new rifles to soldiers

PNoy distributes new rifles to soldiers. President Benigno Aquino III hands over a new M4 assault rifle to an Army soldier during a ceremonial distribution of new rifles to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, August 14. The new rifles will replace the old M16 model troops use in the frontlines. Robert Viñas
Members of the Liberal Party said on Thursday that President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was still its best bet for the 2016 presidential elections.

In Ruth Cabal's report on "24 Oras" on Thursday, members of the Liberal Party said that they would follow whatever the President's decides. But, most of the LP's members want Aquino to run for a second term.

"We're just putting our best player forward. In case this pushes, through we feel our best player is President Aquino," said LP official Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya. Abaya said the second best player was Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Any extension of Aquino's stay in power would need a constitutional amendment.

The Constitution provides for a lone six-year term for the Chief Executive. He or she isn't allowed to run for re-election.

Roxas was Aquino's running mate in the 2010 elections. Roxas, however, lost to Vice President Jejomar Binay.

According to one of its members and Caloocan representative, Edgar Erice said that there was an ongoing consultation among the Party's constituents and many were in favor of Aquino's re-election.

In an interview with a television network on Wednesday, Aquino expressed his openness to a second term and Charter change, if that is what the public wants to the surprise to many, especially those from the opposition.

Binay said it was important for the President to listen to the real voice of the Filipino people and not of those, who only want personal gain. —Trisha Macas/NB, GMA News

PHILSTAR OPINION:

Thank you, Mr. President, for your humor, that was the funniest joke ever FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 16, 2014 - 12:00am 4 215 googleplus1 0


Carmen N. Pedrosa

I received texts from friends about the latest faux pas of President Noynoy Aquino all with dire predictions and warnings.

At first I wanted to cry and be angry, but after some thought, I changed my mind. Thank you Mr. President for your humor, this was the funniest joke yet. This was it!

Nothing could beat the presidential statement on constitutional reform as proof that his matuwid na daan is not to be taken seriously.

If you are not in active circles in social media you are missing a great deal of humor and laughter. That is a pity because according to experts, laughter prolongs life. It is impossible to put the illustrations in a column but you can guess what they are if I give you some titles like Voices — Cocaine? Grass? Speed? Shabu? Or the tyranny of the rabble? Or Kapit sa Patalim (an old one used in the fight against Marcos dictatorship).

But here are some opinions that were expressed in words. This comes from a blog called “Crossroad Philippines,” The fight to oppose P-Noy’s second term, it’s now or never.

With just three weeks after the palace invented an “extend P-Noy term campaign,” do you believe that there are pressing needs and reasons to push for the term extension? Are there bandwagon calls, or public cries expressed on rallies radio and TV programs, petitions or whatever form that led the president to take out his credibility to buy it?

Is it not really fantastic for the president to throw his hat in it? Isn’t he looking pretty much idiotic to let himself be carried away by that ‘staged’ clamor?

Of course whoever plotted the idea are driven by fear and taking that desperate move to extend the president’s term as some self-preservation effort….

To push the campaign into fruition with only a suspicious clamor from paid netizens and fearful party mates is an exercise in futility while risking not only his family’s legacy but the tearing apart of the entire nation.

Reactions to Aquino’s announcement brings anxiety to the people, the decent and the thinking class, but revelry for his allies who would unfortunately work tirelessly for the resurrection of PDAF and DAP.

It would also cause the clipping of powers of the Supreme Court that would pave the way for the conjugal dictatorship of the executive and the legislature, of course with the ever blind allegiance of the fourth estate.“

“The Filipino people paid for democracy with blood, sweat and tears. They will not accept the false article of self-serving popular initiatives as a real example of democracy. Let this be the litmus test of all who seek to be President: an oath — here and now — that nothing they do shall benefit themselves, whether running the country, upholding the laws or changing the Constitution when necessary.

* We the citizens must therefore make sure that we demand these from our leaders.

Bukod pa rito mahalaga rin ang mapangalagaan natin ang proseso ng halalan. Ang dapat lamang pangambahan ay ang dayaan at dagdag-bawas. We should respect the people’s choice.

Finally, to the man I supported in 1992, my friend, our President, Fidel V. Ramos, I say:

No work is ever finished, and good work is hard to let go. But you made your name in history even before you became President, when you joined the people’s fight for democracy, and stood by me in its defense,” so spoke Cory Aquino.

Beautiful words resurrected from a speech she gave at the time when we were first pushing for constitutional reform through a people’s initiative. But are these words true?

President Cory’s speech was a sham. Sometime after that I did go into the Congress archives and found a piece of paper that said President Cory certified (meaning giving an urgent order to Congress) for an enabling law for people’s initiative at the end of her term when she would not have been able to run again.

Here are excerpts from a column I wrote on January 2007 about this: “ Yes, but the façade of democracy and the rule of law must be maintained. Congress did finally come around to pass an enabling act, R.A. 6735 and the accompanying rules and regulations from COMELEC 2003.

But it was not to give voice to the people through a more orderly way of proposing Charter change rather than massing at EDSA which would increasingly be prone to violence.

President Cory certified the bill and pushed by her allies before her term ended.

The scuttlebutt is that the plan of using a peoples’ initiative to prolong her term was mercifully dropped considering her limitations for the country’s leadership.

It was in her time that the model was set for the uses of people’s initiative on how to overcome term limits.

Even then it became obvious that the country was being hampered from carrying out a program of government more attuned to progress or one that could match the consistency and stability of other countries in the region.

Term limits may have been the rallying cry against the failed Marcos regime which misused his long rule.

We were caught in a bind. Term limits were too long for a bad president and too short for a good one. Neither could a program for a stable economy be helped by a musical chairs of government through flawed elections that so deteriorated we ended up in time governed by an incompetent actor.

The theory of people’s initiative is simply to give ordinary citizens the capability to participate directly in decision-making.

…We looked around us and the countries that have galloped to prosperity were parliamentary governments. They elected party programs. At the same time these governments were able to cope with the speed of global changes…

As it developed, people’s initiative is a mixed soup of high principle citing people’s sovereignty as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, as well as political and governance frustration of term limits.

Arrayed against it is an oligarchy of power brokers determined to keep the status quo that they dominate. …People’s initiative is a form of direct democracy and direct democracy is increasingly being thought of as the democracy of the future. It covers a wide-ranging theory of civics around the sovereignty of the people as lodged in the assembly of all citizens.

This is different from a representative republic where sovereignty is held by a subset of the people, the subset most often chosen by election.

* * *

And finally, the last word. Bayanko.org.ph campaign for Constitutional reform is not for the sake any president. It is to change the system. This has been going on for years through several administrations. The difference is the present effort uses technology to crowdsource through a website. It has never been more urgent than today with an incapable and mendacious government.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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