BINAY DEFINITELY RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN 2016 - SPOKESMAN 

Nothing and nobody can stop Vice President Jejomar Binay from running for the highest office of the land in 2016, no matter who his opponents would be, not even if President Benigno Aquino is one of them. “Vice President Binay’s candidacy in 2016 is not dependent on the possible candidates of the other parties,” Joey Salgado, spokesperson for the vice president, said in a statement on Saturday. In a television interview in Bicol, Binay was asked if he was willing to face Aquino as an opponent in the 2016 elections, to which he answered in the affirmative, saying the presidency “has been my dream since I was a child.”
Binay’s camp, however, seems certain that Aquino will be out of the way of Binay’s presidential ambition.
Binay “believes the President will eventually ignore the manufactured clamor for political Charter Change coming from a clique within the Liberal Party,” Salgado said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Pnoy flip-flop puts Belmonte in a bind   

President Benigno Aquino III’s sudden change of mind and openness to constitutional amendments has caused Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., the major proponent of constitutional change in the House of Representatives, to suddenly turn cold and freeze as the controversial issue rages. Belmonte, who is spearheading the move to amend the Constitution in a bid to push for economic reforms, is now in a quandary as to whether he and the House leadership would support Cha-Cha with the way President Aquino wants it amended. Belmonte said he is not sure if the House leadership would pursue Charter Change on the controversial political reforms, particularly in relation to lifting the term limits of the President and other elective officials and clipping the powers of the Supreme Court which President Aquino said was ‘excessive.’ The House Speaker apparently views the recent events as serious after earlier dismissing talks of constitutional amendments to lift the term limits of the President and other elective officials as “hot air.” But Belmonte said his position on the issue would depend after his talks with the President. “I have no position without first discussing it with the President,” he said. It was Belmonte himself who authored Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 seeking specific amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution to spur economic growth. * READ MORE...

ALSO: SPIN MASTERS GO FULL BLAST; COLOMA GOES INTO CONTORTIONS TO DEODORIZE AQUINO MOVES 

PRESIDENT Aquino is not trying to get back at the Supreme Court when he said he is now open to moves to amend the Constitution. Neither is he being inconsistent when he said he will listen to the voice of the people while expressing openness to amendments which might include lifting of term limits for the President, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday. He said the President did not intend to attack the Supreme Court but “was just declaring a principle.”  The President on Wednesday said he is open to revisiting the Charter, particularly provisions which appear to give the Supreme Court “limitless powers.”

Aquino said recent developments had shown how easy it is for the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the Executive and the Legislative, which are co-equal branches of government. Coloma said the President’s primary concern is to ensure that the needs of the people are met, adding the recent ruling of the High Court against the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Aquino government created, had halted some of important programs that are addressing the people’s needs. He said it was probably the first thing that crossed Aquino’s mind when he was asked if he is open to Charter change. “Walang kaisipan ang Pangulo na maging palaban… o lumikha pa ng hidwaan. Nagdeklara lang siya ng kanyang paniwala tungkol sa prinsipyo,” Coloma said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Political Cha-cha dead in the House’  

Any attempt to amend the Constitution to allow President Aquino to extend his term will not succeed in the House of Representatives, a leader of the chamber said yesterday. The lawmaker, who is also an official of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said Filipinos remain suspicious of any move to change the political provisions of the Constitution, particularly the term limits of the president and other elected officials. “How many times were there attempts since the 1990s to amend the political provisions and lift term limits... not only did they not succeed, but there were many protests and cases against them,” the senior administration lawmaker, who declined to be named, said. “This has no chance at all. There is no way this (lifting of term limits) will happen in the manner allowed by the Constitution, unless it will be done extra-constitutional or outside the Constitution,” the source said.

The LP has yet to come up with an official position on Aquino’s controversial pronouncements on Wednesday that he is open to seeking a second term. LP stalwarts contacted by The STAR said there is no word yet on whether the party would come up with an official stand, considering that many of its members in the House remain cool to political Charter change. “No signal at all from the top leaders,” an LP lawmaker said. Other political parties allied with the administration have also yet to come out in support of political Charter change. Administration lawmakers earlier warned that pushing for lifting of term limits would endanger efforts to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution. Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, which seeks to allow greater foreign ownership of certain industries, is now pending in the plenary.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, in a statement, said any move to tinker with political provisions of the Constitution would not take off in the House because Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. himself had promised not to let the chamber touch those provisions. “I don’t think Speaker Belmonte would be party to any effort that would destroy President Cory’s and our national hero Ninoy Aquino’s revered place in Philippine history,” Atienza said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: 4-year term with re-election option for president, VP eyed by Caloocan solon   

Charter change advocate and Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice would propose in a resolution that he would file this month to set the term of the president and vice president at four years with one opportunity for reelection. He would also propose to set the term of senators, congressmen and local officials at four years with a maximum of three terms. Erice said if the resolution would be passed and approved in a plebiscite, winners in the 2016 elections would start their four-year terms, which means senators whose terms expire in 2019 would have their term extended for a year. The next elections, in Erice’s proposal, would be in 2020. He also suggested that a provision against political turncoatism be included in the amendments to the Constitution, as well as a provision to compel Congress to enact an anti-political dynasty law within six months after the amendments are approved.

Erice also dismissed assertions from his senior colleagues in the Liberal Party (LP) that his campaign to amend the political provisions of the Constitution to allow President Aquino to seek another term would not succeed in the House of Representatives. Erice, one of the few LP lawmakers openly pushing for an extension of Aquino’s term, said he was unfazed by the prediction of his partymates. “Let’s see, anything can happen. You can never tell in politics, anyway, I’m just one member of the House,” Erice said. He noted that based on his initial consultations with his constituents, about 60 percent are in favor of another term for Aquino. “There’s no campaign yet for lifting of term limits, but many are in favor. Some are in favor but don’t want the Constitution to be amended,” he added. Erice suggested that Malacañang commission a survey to gauge the public opinion on Aquino’s statement on Wednesday that he’s open to seeking a second term. Commissioning a poll, however, is expensive so he might seek the help of some of his friends so he may be able to commission one. He also said he would monitor the turnout of the protest rally expected on Aug. 25 whether the opposition to extending Aquino’s term is widespread or not. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) 'Clarify Cha-cha stand’: Noy told: Political clarity important  

Administration allies in the House of Representatives are urging President Aquino to clarify his statement on Charter change (Cha-cha). They made the appeal as members of the House majority coalition led by the ruling Liberal Party (LP) wait for clearer signals from Malacañang to formally start their Cha-cha initiative. Party-list group Akbayan, an administration ally, lamented that the situation is now confused, with Palace spokesmen adding to the confusion by apparently contradicting Aquino’s declaration that he was open to Cha-cha and even the lifting of term limits for elective officials. In urging Aquino to clarify his Cha-cha statement, Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Ibarra Gutierrez said such a clarification would “avoid unnecessary confusion.”

“Amid the already confusing and complex state of affairs the people find themselves in right now, political clarity is important. The government must not play into the hands of those who will use and twist the President’s opinion to feed the obfuscation created by those who stand to benefit the most from an undermined Aquino government,” they said. They said Aquino “must make his position on Charter change clearer.”  “Even as the President is driven by good intentions in his openness to amend the country’s Charter to check the power of the Supreme Court, an expressed openness to Charter change in the current context can be seized upon by vested interests out to advance a self-serving political or economic agenda,” they stressed. “Akbayan shares President Aquino’s hope that the momentum of reform he has begun can be sustained in the next term. We are looking forward to how these reforms would continue beyond his six-year term. We also agree that the next president must approximate the same integrity and commitment to the reform process that President Aquino has demonstrated to carry on the campaign for meaningful change,” they added. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Recto bats for budget 2013 transparency feedback mechanism from Palace  

The Aquino administration should be transparent in how it used last year’s budget, which reached more than P1 trillion, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said over the weekend. He said he has not seen any document showing whether itemized projects in the previous year’s budget have materialized. “The problem is… what should have been a seamless progression of the budgeting process is interrupted in the accountability phase because there is no feedback as to the status of the projects, programs and activities sought to be funded,” he added. Recto admitted that it is hard for Congress or its constituents to check if a specific project authorized in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) has really been implemented or realigned or if its funds were impounded. The reason for this is that the familiar budgeting format used during “budget authorization” and “budget execution” ceased to be used during the “budget accountability” phase, Recto explained.

Recto said the Department of Budget and Management, whose recent reforms allow it to keep tabs on each project, can render the itemized report. The senator came up with the proposal as he noticed that the executive branch had no way of reporting back to Congress the status of projects outlined in the previous fiscal year or if these were fully implemented. “We are in receipt of documents more than one foot thick, almost 11 kilos in weight, containing 5,020 pages of fine print, but you can go through all of them line by line and you won’t find anything which says that the projects lovingly enumerated in the previous year’s budget have been implemented,” Recto said. “If you were able to carefully itemize the projects when you were asking for money, then what prevents you now that you have come back to ask for more from giving us an itemized report of how the money was spent?” he asked. * READ MORE...

ALSO Tribune Opinion: Not his mother’s son  

No way and never again. Do your worst, we will do our best to stop you. And we, the people will prevail.” That was the strongest message ever sent by Mrs. Cory Aquino to the then sitting President Fidel Ramos on the latter’s plan to alter the Constitution in 1997, toward the end of his six-year term. The message resonated down to the almost 700,000 anti-chacha rally participants led by the late Cardinal Sin, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, Edgardo Angara, Franklin Drilon and a host of political and civic society personalities on Sept. 21, 1997 at the Luneta Grandstand. So what were the crocodile tears for during the Sona when President Aquino, in a broken voice invoked his parents’ legacy prompting the Aquino sisters to drench their hankies with tears?

All drama. Madam Cory must be turning left and right in her grave wanting to resurrect to lead another rally against her son’s exploratory tinkering of the Constitution to further his term of office. In a spate of consistency of challenging well placed traditional institutions and systems, President Pnoy’s perspective of a charter change is actually getting back with vindictiveness at any institution or system that ties his hands in venting his dictatorial hegemony over his own country. He calls it “balance.” 

In seeking or perhaps having the illusion of a second or extended term, he actually confirms his utter failure in governance for the last four years and is in effect asking the people to grant him a second chance to prove his mettle. Now, he is blaming his incompetence on the Constitution. There could be excuses for corruption but not for incompetence. His “Tuwid na Daan” crusade, after all went phffft as he himself failed to veer the path of his own official family and party mates toward the straight path and worse, spreading his wings and covering them in defiance of the public clamor for his men to go to the gallows with those in the opposition whom they had selectively incarcerated! Recent polls usually sympathetic with this administration even affirmed the people’s dissatisfaction over this selective application of justice on the pork barrel issue. * READ MORE...


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Binay definitely running for president in 2016, says spokesman


Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, AUGUST 18, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Niña P. Calleja - Nothing and nobody can stop Vice President Jejomar Binay from running for the highest office of the land in 2016, no matter who his opponents would be, not even if President Benigno Aquino is one of them.

“Vice President Binay’s candidacy in 2016 is not dependent on the possible candidates of the other parties,” Joey Salgado, spokesperson for the vice president, said in a statement on Saturday.

In a television interview in Bicol, Binay was asked if he was willing to face Aquino as an opponent in the 2016 elections, to which he answered in the affirmative, saying the presidency “has been my dream since I was a child.”

Binay’s camp, however, seems certain that Aquino will be out of the way of Binay’s presidential ambition.

Binay “believes the President will eventually ignore the manufactured clamor for political Charter Change coming from a clique within the Liberal Party,” Salgado said.

* Salgado said the push for amending the Constitution was divisive and would put the three branches of government on a collision course.

“The Vice President feels that the political division and heated debates will undermine the economic achievements of the Aquino administration as it could lead to a decline in investor confidence. All the efforts of the President to move our country forward will come to naught,” he said.

Binay advised Aquino to devote his remaining years in office to “addressing the issues of poverty, the looming power crisis, and other concerns of the people.”

The Binay camp attributed talk about Charter change to the Liberal Party which Salgado said was “obsessed with keeping power.”

For Binay, it was clear that Aquino did not make a categorical statement that he would be running in 2016, but merely said he would hold consultations and listen to the voice of the people.

“The President’s words are being falsely represented as a categorical statement that he will run in 2016, and as a result will face off with Vice President Binay,” Salgado said.

He said those misrepresenting or twisting Aquino’s words wanted to sow intrigue between Aquino and Binay.

“Vice President Binay believes that despite the intrigues, his working relationship and friendship with the President will remain strong,” Salgado said.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Pnoy flip-flop puts belmonte in a bind By Maricel Cruz, Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Aug. 17, 2014 at 12:01am

Term extension not part of original House resolution


Pnoy

President Benigno Aquino III’s sudden change of mind and openness to constitutional amendments has caused Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., the major proponent of constitutional change in the House of Representatives, to suddenly turn cold and freeze as the controversial issue rages.

Belmonte, who is spearheading the move to amend the Constitution in a bid to push for economic reforms, is now in a quandary as to whether he and the House leadership would support Cha-Cha with the way President Aquino wants it amended.

Aquino
Belmonte said he is not sure if the House leadership would pursue Charter Change on the controversial political reforms, particularly in relation to lifting the term limits of the President and other elective officials and clipping the powers of the Supreme Court which President Aquino said was ‘excessive.’

The House Speaker apparently views the recent events as serious after earlier dismissing talks of constitutional amendments to lift the term limits of the President and other elective officials as “hot air.”

But Belmonte said his position on the issue would depend after his talks with the President.

“I have no position without first discussing it with the President,” he said.

It was Belmonte himself who authored Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 seeking specific amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution to spur economic growth.

* In pushing for economic reform through constitutional amendments, Belmonte said then that with or without the President’s go signal, the House was determined to push for Charter Change in the present 15th Congress – as one of its top priorities in the legislative mill.

Political observers have noted that the issue of Charter change and which provisions of the charter should be amended has created a situation where the roles of two major political leaders and allies had been reversed.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, member of the House minority, said that Belmonte’s dilemma was understandable.

“Speaker Belmonte was only seeking limited amendments focused on economic reforms in the Constitution while the President’s turn-around on constitutional change and intention to push for “controversial” political amendments in the Charter like the lifting of term limits and clipping the powers of the Supreme Court puts them on opposite directions, “ Albano said.

“This creates a new dynamic on charter change and alters the political landscape,” Albano said, noting the President Aquino’s recent openness to Charter Change for a possible second term—if the Constitution is successfully amended.

Albano said the Aquino gambit if carried out to the end is the game changer in the coming 2016 national elections.

Aquino’s sudden shift toward Charter Change was borne of the belief that the executive and the legislative had been at the receiving end of the Supreme Court’s “abuse” of powers, thereby disrupting the system of checks and balances and separation of powers as the Constitution provides.

The High Court had declared both illegal the legislators’ priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and the executive’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

In previous statements, President Aquino had adopted the famous American quote “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in stressing his strong objection to attempts to amend the Constitution being pushed by Belmonte and then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Back then, Aquino even said that he was “taken aback” over Belmonte’s hard push for Charter Change.

He had also argued in a statement he made just two years ago (July 2012) that the 6.4-percent economic growth that his administration achieved in the first quarter of 2012 was proof enough that the country could grow without amending the Charter.

“There is a saying among Americans… don’t fix what ain’t broke,” Aquino had said. “Even with the present Constitution, I think we are capable of reaching economic heights for one, and changing the Constitution changes the rules of the game, which might delay the progress.”

House Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Bolet Banal said that House members are leaving it up with Belmonte as to how the House leadership would make a stand and resolve its quandary over Charter Change.

“We in the House, especially those in the majority, trust Speaker Belmonte’s wisdom and stewardship,” Banal, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, said.

“He has steered us through challenging times, through two impeachment complaints, and through hotly debated issues like the Reproductive Health Bill and the Sin Tax Reform Law. Tougher times lie ahead, but I am confident that the House leadership led by Speaker Belmonte is up to any task because of its track record and because of the support of our coalition partners,” Banal said.

Meanwhile, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, member of the House Independent Bloc of Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, warned Charter Change proponents that if moves to amend the Constitution succeed, it virtually opens the door for any kind of amendments or alterations, including the total mangling of the Constitution,” de la Cruz said.

As this developed, Vice President Jejomar Binay said that in the event amending the constitution would allow Aquino to run for the same position, he (Binay) is ready and capable to face off against Aquino in 2016.

In a statement, Binay said that he had been preparing for the presidency since he was a young kid, while citing his 21-year experience as Makati Mayor as a big factor for his readiness for the job.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve been dreaming [to become a President],” he said in Tagalog.

When asked if he would be willing to compete against Aquino in the 2016 polls, Binay answered in the affirmative.

He, however, reiterated his call to the president not to be persuaded by some of his advisers who may have vested interests in wanting to amend the 27-year-old Constitution.

FROM MALAYA

SPIN MASTERS GO FULL BLAST; COLOMA GOES INTO CONTORTIONS TO DEODORIZE AQUINO MOVES By JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR | August 15, 2014


COLOMA

PRESIDENT Aquino is not trying to get back at the Supreme Court when he said he is now open to moves to amend the Constitution. Neither is he being inconsistent when he said he will listen to the voice of the people while expressing openness to amendments which might include lifting of term limits for the President, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday.

He said the President did not intend to attack the Supreme Court but “was just declaring a principle.”

The President on Wednesday said he is open to revisiting the Charter, particularly provisions which appear to give the Supreme Court “limitless powers.”

Aquino said recent developments had shown how easy it is for the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the Executive and the Legislative, which are co-equal branches of government.

Coloma said the President’s primary concern is to ensure that the needs of the people are met, adding the recent ruling of the High Court against the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Aquino government created, had halted some of important programs that are addressing the people’s needs.

He said it was probably the first thing that crossed Aquino’s mind when he was asked if he is open to Charter change.

“Walang kaisipan ang Pangulo na maging palaban… o lumikha pa ng hidwaan. Nagdeklara lang siya ng kanyang paniwala tungkol sa prinsipyo,” Coloma said.

* On the possible extension of the President’s term, which will be possible only by amending the Constitution, Coloma said Aquino clearly stated that he would have to get the pulse of the masses first and listen to the voice of the people, his “bosses.”

He said what the President wants is to ensure that reforms he instituted would not only be sustained but would also become permanent.

“What is essential for the President is to know the sentiments of his bosses, the Filipino people. He will continue to listen to them so he will know their views on how to ensure that the reforms and transformation that he has begun will continue and will become permanent,” he said, adding he cannot go beyond what Aquino had said in the interview.

Coloma reiterated the administration continues to count the days until June 30, 2016 when Aquino’s term would end, but at the same time Malacañang is looking at what the public wants.

He said there are different ways for the President to get the people’s pulse as he receives a lot of information from different sectors, offices, agencies and groups.

Asked if they are not concerned about any political backlash or even a drop in his popularity, Coloma said the more important thing for the President now is to fulfill his mandate.

Coloma acknowledged the negative comments hurled against Aquino right after his statements aired Wednesday night on TV5 Aksyon. But he said those were just initial reactions and the Palace would wait for more detailed reactions and feedback in the coming days.

Coloma said Aquino’s statements should not be misconstrued to mean that the administration’s Liberal Party has no strong contender for the presidency.

He said it is also not a challenge targeted at Vice President Jejomar Binay who has announced his plans to run for president in 2016.

VESTED INTERESTS

Don’t listen to those with vested interests or those motivated by self-preservation. In essence, this was Binay’s unsolicited advice to President Aquino.

“I respect the statement of the President. Any national leader would want to hear the voice of the people on issues that will have far-reaching consequences. 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. We also need to keep our focus on pursuing our goal of improving the lives of the people for the remainder of the President’s term and beyond,” he said.

The Vice President’s daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, said President Aquino should listen only to “the genuine voice of the people.”

She also said she hopes Aquino remembers the fight against the Marcos dictatorship, in which his parents were also involved.

Aquino’s allies at the Senate believe the President will not seek second term.

Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Juan Edgardo Angara said they do not think Aquino will take advantage of the opportunity if ever the Constitution is amended to extend the term of the President.

TESTING THE WATERS

Angara said, “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.”

He, however, said that it is difficult to decipher the President’s intentions.

“He and the LP (Liberal Party) may be testing the waters, so to speak. 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, that remains to be seen and only time will tell,” Angara said.

On the plan to amend the Constitution to clip the power of the Supreme Court, Angara said it’s not the first time that the President expressed his views “and others have said that in the past, though perhaps in a different context, that of economic decision making.”

The leadership of the House of Representatives appears to be cool to the idea of amending the Constitution to allow the President to seek a second term.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. remained non-committal even if he has conceded that lifting the term limits is a difficult task to undertake for Congress.

Belmonte, author of a bill seeking to amend economic restrictions in the Constitution to lift the limits of foreign ownership, made himself scarce in the wake of the President’s statement that he is open to constitutional amendments now.

House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II has already voiced reservations over the proposal, noting that Belmonte’s initiative will be the “collateral damage” since it would be difficult to pursue amendments that would touch on the political provisions of the Constitution.

Members of the ruling Liberal Party at the House readily supported amending term limits.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, a member of the minority bloc, praised the President’s openness to Charter change (Cha-cha).

“Amending the 1987 Constitution if carried out now as the President wishes, could be the game changer in the coming 2016 national elections as it would also alter the course of the country’s economy towards a growth oriented path in the years to come,” he said.

Other opposition congressmen said the cat is now out of the bag: Aquino wants to stay in power beyond his term.

Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), a Binay ally in the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), called “political suicide” the President’s pronouncement.

Gatchalian said the President should learn from history, particularly the attempt by former President Ramos and his men to lift the term limits for the chief executive and other elective officials, which was vigorously opposed by Aquino’s mother Corazon Aquino, former President Joseph Estrada, the Catholic Church, and religious groups including the influential Iglesia ni Cristo and the El Shaddai.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said, “I cannot lend support to constitutional amendments that merely serve the purposes of one office holder or one class of persons.” said Villegas. – With JP Lopez, Wendell Vigilia, and Gerard Naval

FROM PHILSTAR

‘Political Cha-cha dead in the House’ By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 17, 2014 - 12:00am 0 49 googleplus0 0


PHILIPPINE CONGRESS

MANILA, Philippines - Any attempt to amend the Constitution to allow President Aquino to extend his term will not succeed in the House of Representatives, a leader of the chamber said yesterday.

The lawmaker, who is also an official of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said Filipinos remain suspicious of any move to change the political provisions of the Constitution, particularly the term limits of the president and other elected officials.

“How many times were there attempts since the 1990s to amend the political provisions and lift term limits... not only did they not succeed, but there were many protests and cases against them,” the senior administration lawmaker, who declined to be named, said.

“This has no chance at all. There is no way this (lifting of term limits) will happen in the manner allowed by the Constitution, unless it will be done extra-constitutional or outside the Constitution,” the source said.

The LP has yet to come up with an official position on Aquino’s controversial pronouncements on Wednesday that he is open to seeking a second term.

LP stalwarts contacted by The STAR said there is no word yet on whether the party would come up with an official stand, considering that many of its members in the House remain cool to political Charter change.

“No signal at all from the top leaders,” an LP lawmaker said.

Other political parties allied with the administration have also yet to come out in support of political Charter change.

Administration lawmakers earlier warned that pushing for lifting of term limits would endanger efforts to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution. Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, which seeks to allow greater foreign ownership of certain industries, is now pending in the plenary.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, in a statement, said any move to tinker with political provisions of the Constitution would not take off in the House because Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. himself had promised not to let the chamber touch those provisions.

“I don’t think Speaker Belmonte would be party to any effort that would destroy President Cory’s and our national hero Ninoy Aquino’s revered place in Philippine history,” Atienza said.

* Six months ago, Atienza initiated the signing of a pledge among lawmakers that any amendment to the Constitution would be limited to economic provisions.

Signatories to the pledge had promised to resign if they support political changes in the Charter.

Some LP members were clueless about what the President was really up to.

“There appears to be a game plan in Malacañang but we still don’t know what it is,” an LP lawmaker said.

Other House members speculated that the President’s pronouncement was meant to help prop up the low ratings of party choice Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

“It’s possible the President was not really serious about having a second term but why float it? Is he trying to be cute?” a senior administration lawmaker said.

Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo of the LP said he would follow the party line once it makes a stand.

No marching orders

Malacañang’s legislative point man, meanwhile, said there are no marching orders for officials to coordinate with the House of Representatives and the Senate regarding Charter change and possible term extension, but stressed he sees no problem with Congress if such proposals are officially brought up before the chamber.

“Well, Cha-cha has always been identified as a priority bill of both Houses – meaning, the Senate and the House – although it was never included in the priority bills of the President. I haven’t received any marching orders on this,” Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Secretary Manuel Mamba Jr. said yesterday over dzRB.

He said that while there are other bills the Palace wants prioritized like the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, any proposal to extend Aquino’s term would be “doable” given the President’s popularity.

“Anyway, we are awaiting the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the draft bill and we are discussing this with both Houses. And, in fact, they are awaiting the arrival of the proposed bill itself so we could work on it already,” Mamba said.

“I think we have ample time for all of this because we anticipate that this will be a more productive year – the second regular year, legislative year for the 16th Congress,” he said, noting that the first legislative year was full of controversies.

But he expressed confidence that work with Congress would be easier this time, especially since they “practically” cannot be bothered by any opposition in the House.

“So in my view, it’s much, much easier to do all these things now,” Mamba said.

“I don’t find any problem, if and when, this (Cha-cha) is pushed – this is only personal to me – although, at this point in time, I did not get any inkling,” he said.

“The leadership of both Houses and, of course, the President have a very good relationship. At this point in time, I didn’t get any marching order on pushing the Cha-cha because this has been identified by both Houses...but not the Office of the President,” Mamba said.

“I would have known at this point in time if we will be pushing this. But as I said, the current relationship of both Houses with the executive is good. And I feel that if what needs to be passed is not controversial, then it will be easily passed,” Mamba said.

Popularity high

Mamba added the President’s popularity is still very high, especially among the grassroots.

“He is very popular as a politician, you can really feel it on the grassroots,” Mamba said.

The President’s popularity, he said, was boosted by numerous pro-poor programs including the conditional cash transfer program, infrastructure development, health services upgrade, improved benefits for government employees, including policemen.

“Rural health units are really being improved including provincial hospitals. (They are) being repaired and improved by the national government because of the sin taxes,” Mamba said.

“We have a very popular President and the popularity extends even in the farthest barangay because of the CCT, because of PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.),” he pointed out.

Almost all of the poorest residents of barangays who never had PhilHealth cards were now enjoying such benefit, he said.

“It is doable for the President to be extended or for the President to have a reelection, in my view – just my view – because (his popularity) is felt even in far-flung areas,” Mamba said.

For her part, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte reiterated over radio dzRB that Aquino’s statement on Cha-cha was in the context of judicial reform but that he gave no special instructions to congressional allies to have it carried out.

Valte said other important concerns like the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law were being attended to despite the talks on Cha-cha and term extension.

“The President is very much aware of the urgency and the timetable that we are trying to follow,” Valte said when asked for the deadline of the draft’s submission to Congress after it was forwarded by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panels to the Office of the President for review on Aug. 18.

She said the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law must be scrutinized and promptly acted upon as a landmark legislation in anticipation of the filing of cases with the Supreme Court questioning the measure’s constitutionality.

“You can explore all of these possibilities. What I can speak about and what I can tell you about is the commitment of the current administration to peace,” Valte said. – Aurea Calica

4-year term with re-election option for president, VP eyed By Paolo Romero, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 17, 2014 - 12:00am 11 168 googleplus0 0


Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice

MANILA, Philippines - Charter change advocate and Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice would propose in a resolution that he would file this month to set the term of the president and vice president at four years with one opportunity for reelection.

He would also propose to set the term of senators, congressmen and local officials at four years with a maximum of three terms.

Erice said if the resolution would be passed and approved in a plebiscite, winners in the 2016 elections would start their four-year terms, which means senators whose terms expire in 2019 would have their term extended for a year.

The next elections, in Erice’s proposal, would be in 2020.

He also suggested that a provision against political turncoatism be included in the amendments to the Constitution, as well as a provision to compel Congress to enact an anti-political dynasty law within six months after the amendments are approved.

Erice also dismissed assertions from his senior colleagues in the Liberal Party (LP) that his campaign to amend the political provisions of the Constitution to allow President Aquino to seek another term would not succeed in the House of Representatives.

Erice, one of the few LP lawmakers openly pushing for an extension of Aquino’s term, said he was unfazed by the prediction of his partymates.

“Let’s see, anything can happen. You can never tell in politics, anyway, I’m just one member of the House,” Erice said.

He noted that based on his initial consultations with his constituents, about 60 percent are in favor of another term for Aquino.

“There’s no campaign yet for lifting of term limits, but many are in favor. Some are in favor but don’t want the Constitution to be amended,” he added.

Erice suggested that Malacañang commission a survey to gauge the public opinion on Aquino’s statement on Wednesday that he’s open to seeking a second term. Commissioning a poll, however, is expensive so he might seek the help of some of his friends so he may be able to commission one.

He also said he would monitor the turnout of the protest rally expected on Aug. 25 whether the opposition to extending Aquino’s term is widespread or not.

* But as talks on the possibility of Charter change roam the halls of Congress, militant students have already slammed the statement of Aquino that he is open to Constitutional reform and extension of his term.

“There is no such clamor for term extension from his bosses who are angry with the widespread corruption under his helm. We’ve had enough of failed promises. Corruption and term extension are utterly unacceptable and must go,” Youth Act Now-Metro Manila spokesman Christian Lloyd Magsoy said in a statement.

League of Filipino Students national spokesperson Charlotte Velasco earlier said that Aquino seemed to think that the people were clamoring for his re-election.

“The megalomaniac President should stop his illusions and false propaganda about how the people want him to stay longer in power. We all know whose plan is this in the first place,” Velasco said.

The youth group also challenged the Aquino administration to disclose where the funds for the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) went.

The group said they would join thousands of Filipinos who would participate in the protest rally “Stand Up, Sign Up Against All Pork” at the Luneta Park in Manila on Aug. 25. The rally would mark the first anniversary of the Million People March.

“We challenge the Aquino administration to audit DAP and show the people where our money was spent and penalize everyone who was involved,” Magsoy said.

“As for the people, DAP means Dapat kay Aquino, Panagutin. Until he and his associates are held accountable, the people will continue to intensify their voices calling for genuine social change,” he added.

The participating schools for the Aug. 25 protest include Adamson University, Technological University of the Philippines, Philippine Normal University, Philippine Women’s University, Philippine Christian University, Far Eastern University, National University, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology and Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

‘Clarify Cha-cha stand’: Noy told: Political clarity important  Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 18, 2014 - 12:00am 1 6 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Administration allies in the House of Representatives are urging President Aquino to clarify his statement on Charter change (Cha-cha).

They made the appeal as members of the House majority coalition led by the ruling Liberal Party (LP) wait for clearer signals from Malacañang to formally start their Cha-cha initiative.

Party-list group Akbayan, an administration ally, lamented that the situation is now confused, with Palace spokesmen adding to the confusion by apparently contradicting Aquino’s declaration that he was open to Cha-cha and even the lifting of term limits for elective officials.

In urging Aquino to clarify his Cha-cha statement, Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Ibarra Gutierrez said such a clarification would “avoid unnecessary confusion.”

“Amid the already confusing and complex state of affairs the people find themselves in right now, political clarity is important. The government must not play into the hands of those who will use and twist the President’s opinion to feed the obfuscation created by those who stand to benefit the most from an undermined Aquino government,” they said.

They said Aquino “must make his position on Charter change clearer.”

“Even as the President is driven by good intentions in his openness to amend the country’s Charter to check the power of the Supreme Court, an expressed openness to Charter change in the current context can be seized upon by vested interests out to advance a self-serving political or economic agenda,” they stressed.

“Akbayan shares President Aquino’s hope that the momentum of reform he has begun can be sustained in the next term. We are looking forward to how these reforms would continue beyond his six-year term. We also agree that the next president must approximate the same integrity and commitment to the reform process that President Aquino has demonstrated to carry on the campaign for meaningful change,” they added.

* For his part, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, a member of the House minority bloc and principal advocate of Cha-cha via constituent assembly (con-ass), said he will consult with House leaders before filing his con-ass resolution.

“It would be a futile exercise if the majority coalition will not support it. Members of the majority must seize the moment. The President has already provided the opening. The time for Cha-cha is ripe. It is now or maybe never,” he said.

Damage control

On the other hand, Akbayan’s nemesis, the Bayan Muna party-list group, claimed that the President did make that declaration, and that Palace officials speaking for him are now trying to “belittle or withdraw” his statement in an attempt at “damage control.”

For Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, two of Aquino’s impeachment endorsers, the President made a categorical statement that he is open to Cha-cha in his recent television interview.

They said the Palace “is now trying to belittle or even withdraw President Aquino’s Cha-cha and term extension statement because of the heavy flak it received from all sectors of society and the growing mass protests against it.

“All this talk about Cha-cha being merely a messaging ploy to diffuse public perception of President Aquino as a lame duck president is untrue. This is not a trial balloon but a serious attempt at Cha-cha no different from President Arroyo’s supposedly innocent ‘Let the great debate on Charter change begin’ in 2005,” the two said.

They added that Aquino’s television interview was a signal to his allies to rally support for Cha-cha.

Political groups allied with the LP, including the National Unity Party (NUP) and Party-list Coalition (PLC), said they have not discussed Cha-cha and con-ass.

“We have yet to take a party stand on those issues,” Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas City in Cavite, a leader of NUP, said.

Speaking for PLC, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said they would soon meet on Cha-cha and con-ass.

Recto bats for feedback mechanism from Palace By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 18, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration should be transparent in how it used last year’s budget, which reached more than P1 trillion, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said over the weekend.

He said he has not seen any document showing whether itemized projects in the previous year’s budget have materialized.

“The problem is… what should have been a seamless progression of the budgeting process is interrupted in the accountability phase because there is no feedback as to the status of the projects, programs and activities sought to be funded,” he added.

Recto admitted that it is hard for Congress or its constituents to check if a specific project authorized in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) has really been implemented or realigned or if its funds were impounded.

The reason for this is that the familiar budgeting format used during “budget authorization” and “budget execution” ceased to be used during the “budget accountability” phase, Recto explained.

Recto said the Department of Budget and Management, whose recent reforms allow it to keep tabs on each project, can render the itemized report.

The senator came up with the proposal as he noticed that the executive branch had no way of reporting back to Congress the status of projects outlined in the previous fiscal year or if these were fully implemented.

“We are in receipt of documents more than one foot thick, almost 11 kilos in weight, containing 5,020 pages of fine print, but you can go through all of them line by line and you won’t find anything which says that the projects lovingly enumerated in the previous year’s budget have been implemented,” Recto said.

“If you were able to carefully itemize the projects when you were asking for money, then what prevents you now that you have come back to ask for more from giving us an itemized report of how the money was spent?” he asked.

* He recommended that Congress should be furnished a “new budget accountability form” to prove if a project, activity or program authorized in the GAA had indeed been implemented.

The senator also proposed the use of the same GAA format in reporting that the projects funded for the year have been implemented.

“We want receipts for the funds spent,” Recto said in Filipino.

“The idea is for the executive to return to us the same GAA but this time it will be in annotated form. Every funding item in the GAA of the previous year will carry a corresponding note indicating when it was completed and the amount spent for its completion.

DAILY TRIBUNE OPINION

Not his mother’s son Written by Larry Faraon Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:00

No way and never again. Do your worst, we will do our best to stop you. And we, the people will prevail.”

That was the strongest message ever sent by Mrs. Cory Aquino to the then sitting President Fidel Ramos on the latter’s plan to alter the Constitution in 1997, toward the end of his six-year term. The message resonated down to the almost 700,000 anti-chacha rally participants led by the late Cardinal Sin, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, Edgardo Angara, Franklin Drilon and a host of political and civic society personalities on Sept. 21, 1997 at the Luneta Grandstand.

So what were the crocodile tears for during the Sona when President Aquino, in a broken voice invoked his parents’ legacy prompting the Aquino sisters to drench their hankies with tears?

All drama. Madam Cory must be turning left and right in her grave wanting to resurrect to lead another rally against her son’s exploratory tinkering of the Constitution to further his term of office.

In a spate of consistency of challenging well placed traditional institutions and systems, President Pnoy’s perspective of a charter change is actually getting back with vindictiveness at any institution or system that ties his hands in venting his dictatorial hegemony over his own country. He calls it “balance.”

In seeking or perhaps having the illusion of a second or extended term, he actually confirms his utter failure in governance for the last four years and is in effect asking the people to grant him a second chance to prove his mettle.

Now, he is blaming his incompetence on the Constitution.

There could be excuses for corruption but not for incompetence. His “Tuwid na Daan” crusade, after all went phffft as he himself failed to veer the path of his own official family and party mates toward the straight path and worse, spreading his wings and covering them in defiance of the public clamor for his men to go to the gallows with those in the opposition whom they had selectively incarcerated! Recent polls usually sympathetic with this administration even affirmed the people’s dissatisfaction over this selective application of justice on the pork barrel issue.

* Today, “Daang Matuwid” seems to have metamorphosed into “Daang Makapal.” As Party List Rep. Antonio Tino quipped: “Saan galing ang kapal ng mukha ng mga ito?”

As to the claim that PNoy is open to charter change and would consult his “bosses,” this is superfluous because all he has to do is check the recent poll surveys showing his plummeting ratings as early as two years before he ends his term.

Those stats would never see light for the rest of his term until he finally bows out in disgrace and ignominy.

Or if he chooses to snub the ratings as his mouthpieces have developed the paradigm of downplaying the unfavorable results of the surveys, he can always go back to reading broadsheets. Remember, he once opted not to read the dailies since they are all negatively critical of his administration!

Unfortunately, without such feedback mechanism on hand since he chose to rebuff them, he is left with his chorus boys and girls around him who shower him with laurels over his false accomplishments and prodding him to walk the path where angels fear to tread such as ganging up on the Supreme Court, spicing the congressional allies to kowtow to his will and now, fancying a second term.

But as I have written in my past columns, this administration has many ploys to toy around with. The cha-cha for term extension or a shift to the parliamentary system that would make PNoy stay longer in Malacañang as provided by the “transitory provisions” and eventually catapult him to the office of Prime Minister, may face rough sailing with the brewing resistance from all over. Besides, two years may not be enough to cover the chronological requirements of charter change which includes a referendum vote by the people themselves.

Ploys are toys and this administration may well look into the possibility of declaring martial law where easily PNoy could get a two thirds majority approval from his congressional allies as provided by the Constitution. Cold shoulders should not underestimate this scenario for now, but expect the unexpected from this unpredictable president. Anything goes in this administration.

In the first place, we never expected a son becoming a president because a mother passed away. The son became president because of the mother’s legacy. With obviously countermanding his mother’s democratic advocacy and absolute respect for the constitution, the Cory Constitution, he no longer becomes his mother’s son. He loses his rationale or base for enjoying the people’s favor.

The electorate would never vote for a traitor, especially one who betrays even his own mother! No way.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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