NOY TO STEP DOWN IN 2016 

AUGUST 6 --PHILSTAR-- PHOTO: President Aquino is joined by Nini Quezon-Avanceña (2nd from right), daughter of the late President Manuel Quezon, and decendants of the Frieder brothers during the screening of the ‘Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust’ at Malacañang yesterday. The film is a one-hour documentary on how the Philippines became an asylum of approximately 1,300 Jews who escaped Nazi tyranny during World War II. The rescue was orchestrated by Quezon, US High Commissioner Paul McNutt, US Army Col. Dwight Eisenhower and the five Frieder brothers. - It’s a free country where people can propose anything, but Malacañang assured the public yesterday that President Aquino is committed to serve just one fixed term of six years and will step down from office in 2016. “The President is only counting the remaining months, days in office before he finally steps down. He hasn’t even thought of extending his term of office,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday. He said Aquino is not giving serious thought to proposals of term extension. “The President is not giving particular attention to those things nor is he encouraging anyone to make the move. It’s all part of free expression in a free society,” Coloma said. Asked why the President’s allies had raised the idea at all, Coloma said it was a way to gauge public sentiment and get feedback, adding that Aquino himself had declared in a previous event that he wanted to know if he still enjoyed public support. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Bongga! Kris Aquino welcomes idea of Binay running under PNoy’s LP

AUGUST 7 --President Benigno Aquino III's outspoken sister, showbiz personality Kris Aquino, has welcomed the idea of opposition leader Vice President Jejomar Binay running in the 2016 elections as the ruling Liberal Party's guest presidential candidate, a report on GMA News' "24 Oras" said on Wednesday.  “Parang may value naman ang opinion ko diyan, pero kung totoo, e di bongga!" Kris Aquino emphatically told reporters when asked about Binay's information that the administration party was eyeing him as its standard bearer two years from now. "I don't make a secret of the fact that one of my closest friends is his (Binay's) daughter Anne, and we pray together,” she added. Another presidential sister, Bally Aquino-Cruz, also posed no objection to Binay's scenario.

“You know, he never said anything bad about my family at pati na rin sa ibang partido, kaya ako ay natutuwa na ganoon ang pakiramdam niya. Kung yun din naman ang kanyang hangarin, na maipagpatuloy ang mga nasimulan ni Noy [President Aquino's nickname], e di magaling,” Cruz said. While Binay heads the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, he remains a member of President Aquino's Cabinet as housing czar and adviser on migrant workers' affairs. Binay is a longtime friend of the Aquino family. He has repeatedly said that he owed his government and political career to the late former President Corazon Aquino, who first appointed him officer-in-charge of Makati in 1986. Senate President Franklin Drilon, vice chairman of LP, had earlier denied that the administration party was eyeing Binay to be its standard bearer. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Extended term for Noy floated; Palace plays coy to the idea but hints at possibilities  

AUGUST 8 --FROM MANILA STANDARD: MALACAÑANG played coy Wednesday about whether President Benigno Aquino III would seek a fresh six-year term in 2016, despite the one-term limit set by the Constitution. “There have been people who have been asking us for comment on calls for the President to have another term because of the effect of what this administration has done,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
“The President has already expressed his preference, but of course he will see if that is the voice of the masses, the voice of his bosses. The President has his own opinion, but if you ask me, the President is sensitive to the voice of his boss. So let’s just wait for that,” Lacierda said. On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told a TV interview he would prefer a term extension for Aquino, even though Roxas is the presumed standard bearer for the Liberals in 2016. Two Facebook pages – Onemoretermforpnoy and OMTFP-- were also created to call for another term for the President.

The first community page has generated 1,075 likes since it was created in June, and the second has 5,940 likes since April. Lacierda said the President has heard these calls. “People have been talking to our Cabinet secretaries, expressing their sentiment that they want President Aquino to extend his term. These sentiments have reached the President,” he said. “We’re very thankful of the support and the expression of a preference for another term,” Lacierda added. But when pressed if his statements meant that the administration was now open to supporting efforts in Congress to amend the Constitution, Lacierda said no. “The President has made his position (against) Charter change very clear...Many people have come to us and expressed the sentiment of their preference for another term. But, again, this is not something that we have discussed seriously, knowing fully well his stand on Charter change,” Lacierda said. “If you’re asking me what is going to convince the President (to seek a second term), we have not discussed that point yet.” “We are just stating a matter of principle that the President has always listened to his bosses. But as to the specifics, we have no specifics,” he added. Lacierda also assured the public that government funds are not being used to bankroll groups calling for a second term for the President. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy's sisters not meddling in politics - Palace

AUGUST 10 --The President’s sisters do not meddle in politics. Malacañang clarified yesterday that the supposed declaration of support of President Aquino’s siblings for the presidential bid of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016 is not official. The statements issued earlier by Aquino’s sisters Ballsy and Kris that they are open to supporting Binay for president in the 2016 polls are not binding on the Chief Executive and members of his family, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said. “I had an opportunity to speak to one of the sisters, and what Ma’am Ballsy seemed to have said was that she was expressing her personal opinion,” she said over radio dzRB. “Ayokong makialam sa ganyan (I don’t want to meddle in such things.) So I don’t know where the story went. But anyway, the most important for the President is to continue the reforms,” Valte quoted Ballsy as saying. Binay had earlier thanked the Aquino sisters for their support. Kris admitted that they had talked about supporting Binay as the potential successor of the President. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Escudero sees ‘vendetta’ in Congress probe of JDF 

AUGUST 8 --SENATOR Francis Escudero on Thursday said the House investigation of the Judicial Development Fund and the threats by the Liberal Party members to file an impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno could be regarded as a vendetta as a result of its “bad timing.”  He told the regular breakfast forum at the Senate he could not deny that the impeachment threats against Sereno, including the investigation of the high court’s Judicial Development Fund, appeared to be in retaliation for the high court’s declaration that Malacañang’s Disbursement Acceleration Program was unconstitutional. Escudero made his statement even as Malacañang said it had taken a hands-off policy over the recent pronouncements of its allies in Congress that Sereno may be impeached over the allegations of questionable use of the JDF. “The Executive branch has no participation in any efforts to file an impeachment complaint against the chief justice,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said. “The investigation of Congress on the JDF is part of their mandate as lawmakers,” he said. The administration’s allies on Wednesday raised the possibility of impeaching Sereno, an Aquino appointee for the alleged irregularities in the high court’s use of the JDF. Meanwhile, the head of the House committee on justice, Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., said the Supreme Court magistrates should not wait for Congress to exercise its compulsory power to compel them to attend the hearings on the JDF. “They should follow. If none of them follow then we have a compulsory process under the Constitution,” Tupas said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Trial balloon’ shows weak LP—analyst 

AUGUST 8 --A veteran political analyst said on Thursday that the Liberal Party has no strong contender for the 2016 presidential polls, prompting it to float a “trial balloon” on whether President Benigno Aquino III should have a second term of office. Ramon Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform and a much-sought political analyst, said the fact that the LP itself is raising questions about winnable candidates is in itself revealing.“Understandably, the Liberal Party has a problem now because it does not have a strong contender. The ratings of Mar (Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas III) remain unchanged. His numbers are not going up,” Casiple said. “For the LP, that is not a palatable scenario, so they come up with a trial balloon to test the sentiments of the public if they want another term for the President.” “If they can get away with it (term extension for Aquino), they will do it to keep the power. But apparently it backfired on them so they have to disown the idea now,” Casiple added. On Thursday, President Benigno S. Aquino III said that a term extension never crossed his mind, but a Palace insider said some leaders of the Aquino administration are underwhelmed by Roxas’ ratings.

LP secretary-general and Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, also denied rumors that the ruling party was planning to “adopt” a non-party member as its standard bearer in the 2016 presidential elections. Sarmiento said the LP remains supportive of Secretary Mar Roxas as their standard bearer for 2016. “Secretary Roxas remains our only choice for presidential candidate in 2016,” he said. But coalescing with other political parties is an option the party may consider subject to several considerations as we did in the 2013 midterm elections.” “The LP is open to a coalition with other parties which share its ideals and platform,” he said. “We are willing to consider an alliance with any political group based on a continuity of shared values of anti corruption and social equity. We would continue to reform public finances and make public officials accountable. This is the criteria for possible alliances, not political convenience,” he added. “The bottom line is that the LP’s would-be partners must adhere to the ‘Daang Matuwid’ of President Aquino, and whoever will be the standard-bearer in 2016 must be a person untainted by corruption,” Sarmiento said as he also denied any internal bickering within the LP. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Hyatt 10 faction in LP sparking crisis — UNA 

AUGUST 10 --PHOTO: UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco.The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) suspects the Liberal Party (LP) of President Aquino, particularly the so-called Hyatt 10 faction, is purposely creating scenarios that would spark a constitutional crisis. UNA secretary general Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said members of Congress should resist and reject any move from the administration party that would trigger a political crisis and put government institutions in jeopardy. The Hyatt 10 group is composed of former Cabinet officials of former President Arroyo who bolted her administration amid talks of election cheating after the 2004 polls. “The recent talks about term extensions, impeachments and removals are distortions purposely meant to trigger a political crisis and pressure Congress to approve the P2.265 trillion proposed 2015 national budget — all for the intents and purposes of the 2016 agenda,” Tiangco said.

He added that the political noise that members of the LP are drumming up may be a ploy to smokescreen the hidden “election war chest” in the proposed 2015 national budget, and to pressure the Supreme Court to be more “receptive” to the administration’s demands regarding pending cases. “There is a faction within the LP that will do anything to pursue their selfish agenda. There’s a group clamoring for the President to seek another term, and continue with their happy days, and some see these events as a forum to seek fiscal leverage,” Tiangco pointed out.
According to Tiangco, the discordant positions of the Press Secretary Sonny Coloma, presidential spokesmen Edwin Lacierda and Abigail Valte with regard to President Aquino seeking a second term and the threat of impeachment on Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno only show the cracks within the administration party.
“Obviously, the Palace spokesmen are speaking in discordant voices. Lacierda and Valte who are identified with the Balay group (allied with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II) are open to term extension and tinkering with the Constitution, while Sec. Coloma says the President has no plans of extending his term and will step down from office as stated in the Constitution,” he noted.* READ MORE...


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‘Noy to step down in 2016’


President Aquino is joined by Nini Quezon-Avanceña (2nd from right), daughter of the late President Manuel Quezon, and decendants of the Frieder brothers during the screening of the ‘Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust’ at Malacañang yesterday. The film is a one-hour documentary on how the Philippines became an asylum of approximately 1,300 Jews who escaped Nazi tyranny during World War II. The rescue was orchestrated by Quezon, US High Commissioner Paul McNutt, US Army Col. Dwight Eisenhower and the five Frieder brothers. WILLY PEREZ

MANILA, AUGUST 11, 2014 (PHILSTAR) POSTED AUGUST 6 --By Delon Porcalla - It’s a free country where people can propose anything, but Malacañang assured the public yesterday that President Aquino is committed to serve just one fixed term of six years and will step down from office in 2016.

“The President is only counting the remaining months, days in office before he finally steps down. He hasn’t even thought of extending his term of office,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday.

He said Aquino is not giving serious thought to proposals of term extension.

“The President is not giving particular attention to those things nor is he encouraging anyone to make the move. It’s all part of free expression in a free society,” Coloma said.

Asked why the President’s allies had raised the idea at all, Coloma said it was a way to gauge public sentiment and get feedback, adding that Aquino himself had declared in a previous event that he wanted to know if he still enjoyed public support.

* Coloma said Aquino has been thankful for the people’s support for reforms instituted in government.

“That was my impression of him. The President is thankful that the people continue to support him and his righteous path policy,” he said.

However, the option to stick to just one fixed term of six years remains and has not changed, Coloma said.

Thus, calls for a term extension is nothing but a sentiment – no more, no less, he stressed.

Coloma’s statement was issued after an online petition was made calling for Aquino to have six more years in office, implying amendments in the Constitution to remove the provision that limits the tenure of a sitting president to just one term.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday gave hints that while Aquino is opposed to charter change and does not want to extend his stay in power, he would be willing to listen to his “bosses” – the Filipino people.

“The President is sensitive to the voice of his boss, so let us just wait for it,” Lacierda said.

“The President has already spoken of his preference... but we still have to wait for what the people, his boss, really want. There are some who are against but there are still others who want Aquino to go on,” Lacierda said.

It has been no secret and members of Aquino’s Cabinet have relayed the sentiments of people in reaction to news of him going beyond his 2016 term, now that reform measures have taken place and there is a need to sustain the momentum.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II aired his sentiment over a television interview that he would like to see Aquino continue beyond 2016.

“The President knows about those sentiments, we are very thankful of the support and expression of the preference for another term,” Lacierda said.

But when asked if this meant Aquino was open to amending the 1987 Constitution which prohibits presidents from seeking reelection, Lacierda backtracked, insisting this has not been discussed.

Sen. Francis Escudero criticized Lacierda for making the statement, saying it was “clearly unfortunate.”

“He should not have been that vague when he answered that question about that issue. He probably had not spoken with the President before that press conference,” Escudero said.

He lamented Lacierda has never been that careful in his choice of answers whenever he holds his press briefings at Malacañang.

Escudero said Lacierda is not helping the cause of his principal on this particular issue when he came out with a statement about the clamor of some sectors for Aquino to extend his term beyond six years.

“And on the part of President Aquino, to be fair I don’t even think he wants that. In fact, the last time I talked to him he was already counting down the days, and he knows how many days are left. So I don’t think that is even on his mind,” Escudero said.

Asked if the President himself should just come out and clarify the issue, Escudero said it should be the person who created the confusion and that is none other than Lacierda.

‘Critical mass’

Aquino’s administration ally, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, said he would push for amendments in the Constitution to allow Aquino to stay in power for six more years.

“I’m contemplating and studying a possibility of filing an amendment to the Constitution that will allow two terms for the position of president,” Erice told reporters yesterday.

Erice said he would consult his constituents and gather signatures to support his campaign.

“I’m looking for a critical mass to convince. And I think that’s physically possible for a certain period of time. Together with my leaders and supporters we will campaign in our district, we will gather signatures. We have 200,000 voters, if we get 40,000 voters then I’ll push for Charter change,” he said.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said there is still time to undertake Charter change and which will succeed if there is sufficient clamor.

Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, however, warned Charter change to extend Aquino’s term will not fly and will endanger the ongoing legislative process to ease restrictions in the economic provisions of the Constitution to attract investments.

Gonzales pointed out the pending Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 seeking to remove restrictions in foreign ownership in certain industries. He said the resolution would be presented before the plenary anytime soon.

“We have an honest-to-goodness move to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution… and now you’re asking for a direct amendment of the political provision of the Constitution? The bad thing that could happen is that the Charter change resolution will become collateral damage,” he said.

Gonzales said people will become suspicious of the resolution because of the calls to extend Aquino’s term.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas criticized Erice’s proposal even as he admitted the provision on the terms of office of elected officials is one of the weaknesses of the Constitution.

“I am not in favor of the idea, and I guess neither would the President agree to such. Even the people would not welcome such a move. Indeed, the terms of office of elected officials are just one of the flaws of the Constitution,” Fariñas said.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez described the proposal to extend Aquino’s term as self-serving, saying most Filipinos are expected to oppose such move.

“Should the President support the call for his second term, it means he disregarded his own principle because of the desire to stay in power,” he said.

Parañaque City Rep. Gustavo Tambunting said Erice’s proposal was ill advised.

The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno labor group also rejected calls to extend Aquino’s term of office, saying he should instead step down immediately.

“Aquino made corruption and poverty even worse under his term and deserves to be removed from office. The Filipino workers and people know this,” KMU chairman Elmer Labog said.

Too late

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), on the other hand, said proposals to amend the Constitution to accommodate another term of office for Aquino would be impossible at this point.

“At this point it is impossible, unless they amend the 1987 Constitution. The law states now that no reelection for the president,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal explained the Constitution states the President is not eligible for re-election.

“This means that in 2016 or in any other presidential elections, President Aquino could no longer run,” he said.

Asked about the case of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada who was able to run for president in 2010, Macalintal said the constitutionality of his running for office has not been established.

Macalintal added the legality of Estrada’s candidacy has not yet been established although it had been elevated to the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court did not resolve the issue because Estrada had lost in that election and it was deemed moot and academic,” he said.

Escudero added it might be too late to amend the Constitution just to accommodate another six-year term for Aquino.

Even if the people pushing for an amendment of the Constitution to extend the term of the President insist on moving forward with their plan, Escudero said it would be extremely difficult to get the support of the people.

“Whatever amendments to the Constitution must be done in the first part of the term of any president so that there would be no doubt that it would be limited to economic provisions or whatever and not term extension. It’s too late for that now,” he said. – Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy, Sheila Crisostomo, Mayen Jaymalin

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Bongga! Kris Aquino welcomes idea of Binay running under PNoy’s LP August 6, 2014 10:00pm 622 98 0 758 Tags: Benigno Aquino III , Jejomar Binay , Kris Aquino

President Benigno Aquino III's outspoken sister, showbiz personality Kris Aquino, has welcomed the idea of opposition leader Vice President Jejomar Binay running in the 2016 elections as the ruling Liberal Party's guest presidential candidate, a report on GMA News' "24 Oras" said on Wednesday.

“Parang may value naman ang opinion ko diyan, pero kung totoo, e di bongga!" Kris Aquino emphatically told reporters when asked about Binay's information that the administration party was eyeing him as its standard bearer two years from now.

"I don't make a secret of the fact that one of my closest friends is his (Binay's) daughter Anne, and we pray together,” she added.

Another presidential sister, Bally Aquino-Cruz, also posed no objection to Binay's scenario.

“You know, he never said anything bad about my family at pati na rin sa ibang partido, kaya ako ay natutuwa na ganoon ang pakiramdam niya. Kung yun din naman ang kanyang hangarin, na maipagpatuloy ang mga nasimulan ni Noy [President Aquino's nickname], e di magaling,” Cruz said.

While Binay heads the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, he remains a member of President Aquino's Cabinet as housing czar and adviser on migrant workers' affairs.

Binay is a longtime friend of the Aquino family. He has repeatedly said that he owed his government and political career to the late former President Corazon Aquino, who first appointed him officer-in-charge of Makati in 1986.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, vice chairman of LP, had earlier denied that the administration party was eyeing Binay to be its standard bearer.

* Drilon added said that if Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II decided to run for president, he would be the official bet of LP.

Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, meanwhile, kept himself from making a categorical comment on whether he was willing to be the presidential bet of the opposition in the wake of the report that Binay was also being eyed by the LP as its presidential bet.

The former President ran as the UNA's standard bearer in 2010. Binay ran as his running mate then.

Estrada finished second behind President Aquino while Binay came from behind to snatch the vice presidency from LP candidate, then Senator Roxas.

“Hindi pwedeng isa lang ang kandidato ng administration at opposition dahil hindi na demokrasya yun,” Estrada said.

Asked whether he was willing to be the strandard bearer of UNA, Estrada just laughed and replied: “Sa ngayon, I'm too much concentrated on the problems of Manila, wala pa akong iniisip na ganun.”

In earlier interview with GMA News, Estrada hinted that he might be forced to run again as president in 2016 if UNA would have no standard bearer.

On Monday, Binay said he received information that LP was considering adopting him to be its standard bearer in the 2016 elections. He, however, added that the information was still “raw” and there had been no discussions with the LP leaders yet as regards the scenario.

House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales, a member of the LP, admitted that Estrada still had a strong chance of winning if he decides to run for president.

“If the last election was to be any indication, who would have thought na mag number 2 siya. Marami parin talaga ang following niya, yung 'Erap Para sa Mahirap' is a slogan na talagang yung mahihirap nakadikit dun e,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said LP leaders called for a meeting with some of the members on Monday, but he said issue of a possible merger with UNA nor adopting Binay as guest candidate has not been discussed. —Elizabeth Marcelo/NB, GMA News

FROM PHILSTAR

PNoy's sisters not meddling in politics - Palace by Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star Posted at 08/10/2014 11:43 AM | Updated as of 08/10/2014 11:43 AM

MANILA - The President’s sisters do not meddle in politics.

Malacañang clarified yesterday that the supposed declaration of support of President Aquino’s siblings for the presidential bid of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016 is not official.

The statements issued earlier by Aquino’s sisters Ballsy and Kris that they are open to supporting Binay for president in the 2016 polls are not binding on the Chief Executive and members of his family, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

“I had an opportunity to speak to one of the sisters, and what Ma’am Ballsy seemed to have said was that she was expressing her personal opinion,” she said over radio dzRB.

“Ayokong makialam sa ganyan (I don’t want to meddle in such things.) So I don’t know where the story went. But anyway, the most important for the President is to continue the reforms,” Valte quoted Ballsy as saying.

Binay had earlier thanked the Aquino sisters for their support.

Kris admitted that they had talked about supporting Binay as the potential successor of the President.

* Ballsy and Kris issued the statements after Binay announced that the ruling Liberal Party, whose presumptive standard bearer is Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, was planning to adopt him for the 2016 presidential race.

The statements were perceived to be disadvantageous to Roxas, who had been lagging behind Binay in surveys and could be counting on Aquino’s endorsement in 2016.

There have been reports that the sisters silently supported Binay in the 2010 elections even if Roxas was the running mate of Aquino.

Valte, on the other hand, said they wanted someone who would continue Aquino’s straight path policy.

“Hopefully, the next president would continue all the good things that he had started,” she said.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Extended term for Noy floated By Joyce Pangco Panares, Christine F. Herrera and Macon Ramos-Araneta | Aug. 07, 2014 at 12:01am

MALACAÑANG played coy Wednesday about whether President Benigno Aquino III would seek a fresh six-year term in 2016, despite the one-term limit set by the Constitution.

“There have been people who have been asking us for comment on calls for the President to have another term because of the effect of what this administration has done,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“The President has already expressed his preference, but of course he will see if that is the voice of the masses, the voice of his bosses. The President has his own opinion, but if you ask me, the President is sensitive to the voice of his boss. So let’s just wait for that,” Lacierda said.

On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told a TV interview he would prefer a term extension for Aquino, even though Roxas is the presumed standard bearer for the Liberals in 2016.

Two Facebook pages – Onemoretermforpnoy and OMTFP-- were also created to call for another term for the President.

The first community page has generated 1,075 likes since it was created in June, and the second has 5,940 likes since April.

Lacierda said the President has heard these calls.

“People have been talking to our Cabinet secretaries, expressing their sentiment that they want President Aquino to extend his term. These sentiments have reached the President,” he said.

“We’re very thankful of the support and the expression of a preference for another term,” Lacierda added.

But when pressed if his statements meant that the administration was now open to supporting efforts in Congress to amend the Constitution, Lacierda said no.

“The President has made his position (against) Charter change very clear...Many people have come to us and expressed the sentiment of their preference for another term. But, again, this is not something that we have discussed seriously, knowing fully well his stand on Charter change,” Lacierda said.

“If you’re asking me what is going to convince the President (to seek a second term), we have not discussed that point yet.”

“We are just stating a matter of principle that the President has always listened to his bosses. But as to the specifics, we have no specifics,” he added.

Lacierda also assured the public that government funds are not being used to bankroll groups calling for a second term for the President.

* The Palace official said the administration remains focused on governance and not on the 2016 elecitons.

“It will not distract us from focusing on serving the Filipino people. These discussions are all in the realm of theory, of what ifs, in the realm of possibilities,” he said.

“We’re concerned with the here and now. We’re concerned with dealing with the concerns of the people. We’re fully committed to serving out until 2016,” Lacierda added.

Critics of the administration slammed the ruling Liberal Party Wednesday for suggesting a second term for Aquino.

“The LP is floating that idea. Shameless! What gives them the idea that Filipinos are excited over the prospect of having [Aquino] for another six years?” said Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, one of those who filed an impeachment complaint against the President.

She added that only a constitutional amendment would allow Aquino to run for a second term, a move his allies in the House of Representatives could initiate.

Ilagan said Aquino has become the alternative because Roxas “cannot hope to win.”

“How pathetic. Are they so bereft of alternatives [that] they cannot find [someone of] presidential timber? Pity our country,” Ilagan said.

The leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan branded talk of a second term as an act of desperation aimed at allowing Aquino and his officials to escape punishment for the illegal diversion of funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which the Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional.

“The people want President Aquino to be accountable for plundering the coffers through DAP. He has committed culpable violation of the Constitution that is why we wanted him impeached,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., another impeachment complainant.

United Nationalist Alliance secretary general and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said the Liberals were again pushing Aquino into violating the Constitution, after the President did that with the DAP.

“With Roxas leading the pack, an influential faction within the LP is courting President Aquino to consider seeking another term... fully aware that it is a clear violation of the Constitution,” Tiangco said.

In a TV interview Tuesday, Roxas said if it were up to him, he would want Aquino to have a second term to continue his reform program.

But Tiangco said if Roxas were sincere in helping Aquino, he would not suggest an illegal act.

“The LP has shown a pervasive pattern of disregard for the Constitution, which DAP enlarged,” he added.

“This time, they want to tamper with the term limit provision and deny the people their right to choose,” Tiangco said.

He said those behind the call for a term extension for Aquino had a hidden agenda.

“The call for term extension is reckless, ridiculous and delusional. Why does it seem like the LP and Mar Roxas are afraid of the election? Are they afraid to face the people?” Tiangco said.

Recently, a social media campaign dubbed “One More Term: Re-Elect PNoy for 2016” flooded pages on Facebook and Twitter.

The post was said to have emanated from Aquino’s official Facebook account, which has over 4 million followers, Tiangco said.

Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino described the campaign as a “desperate ploy for a lameduck President in denial.”

“They are delusional if they think people are clamoring for PNoy’s second term. It is a reckless statement. It betrays their supporters and constituents who are supporting Charter change mainly for economic reforms,” Palatino added.

“Now, nobody will believe Chacha will not remove term limits,” Palatino said.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said Roxas could be scared of the prospect of losing the 2016 presidential election despite the President’s support.

“That’s why he is nominating PNoy, instead. It’s embarassing that they always do poorly in the opinion surveys, so a better way out is to change the script,” De Jesus said.

“The Palace spin doctors are trying to flood social media with self-serving propaganda that this regime deserves a second term, that Noynoy is God’s gift to the Philippines,” she said.

“It is a desperate ploy to divert attention from the DAP. It also aims to boost the stock of Mar as Noynoy’s anointed. He is now the next big thing to a second term for Aquino. Palace operatives are delusional if they think they can get away with a second term for Noynoy... We say, No way! Aquino is not even fit to finish his term,” De Jesus said.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio also slammed Roxas’ statement on a second term.

He added: “He knows full well that it is prohibited in the Constitution. Is the LP leadership now signaling another assault on the Constitution?”

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. dismissed talk of a second term as wishful thinking on the part of Roxas.

“That’s what he would like,” Marcos said.

“Well, maybe he’s an admirer of the President and he would like the President to continue But our Constitution does not allow it,” he added.

Marcos said he would not be surprised if somebody might attempt to amend the Constitution to allow Aquino to seek another term, even though the President has consistently opposed Charter change.

Unless Aquino has a change of heart, nothing will come from calls for a second term, Marcos added.

Senator Nancy Binay said she would not support amending the Constitution in Aquino’s remaining two years in office. She said, however, that she is open to eventually changing the term limits from one six-year term to two four-year terms.

Binay’s father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, is expected to run in 2016, probably against Roxas, although rumors have spread that the Liberals would “adopt” the vice president as its standard bearer.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said he has not discussed the possibility of a term extension with Aquino, but said this would require a constitutional amendment.

He said he had not seen the Roxas interview, but said the Senate had no plans to initiate amendments to the Constitution. – With Maricel V. Cruz

Escudero sees ‘vendetta’ in Congress probe of JDF By Macon Ramos-Araneta, Joyce Pangco Pañares and Maricel V. Cruz | Aug. 08, 2014 at 12:01am


Escudero

SENATOR Francis Escudero on Thursday said the House investigation of the Judicial Development Fund and the threats by the Liberal Party members to file an impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno could be regarded as a vendetta as a result of its “bad timing.”

He told the regular breakfast forum at the Senate he could not deny that the impeachment threats against Sereno, including the investigation of the high court’s Judicial Development Fund, appeared to be in retaliation for the high court’s declaration that Malacañang’s Disbursement Acceleration Program was unconstitutional.

Escudero made his statement even as Malacañang said it had taken a hands-off policy over the recent pronouncements of its allies in Congress that Sereno may be impeached over the allegations of questionable use of the JDF.

“The Executive branch has no participation in any efforts to file an impeachment complaint against the chief justice,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

“The investigation of Congress on the JDF is part of their mandate as lawmakers,” he said.

The administration’s allies on Wednesday raised the possibility of impeaching Sereno, an Aquino appointee for the alleged irregularities in the high court’s use of the JDF.

Meanwhile, the head of the House committee on justice, Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., said the Supreme Court magistrates should not wait for Congress to exercise its compulsory power to compel them to attend the hearings on the JDF.

“They should follow. If none of them follow then we have a compulsory process under the Constitution,” Tupas said.

* The House conducted a hearing on the JDF on Tuesday but Sereno did not attend it, saying she needed more time to consult with the other magistrates on how the Judiciary could participate in the House hearings.

The DAP aside, the Supreme Court has also declared as illegal the Presidential Development Assistance Fund, or the so-called pork barrel of senators and congressmen.

A senator used to get P120 million a year in pork barrel funds while a congressmen received P70 million.

While Malacanang filed a motion for reconsideration on the Supreme Court ruling on the DAP, Congress opted to abolish the PDAF.

Escudero said if there really was an issue over the JDF, then that issue must be explained.

“Although it [the threat of impeachment] might appear as retaliation or vendetta, if there’s an issue it should be explained because we cannot say that [somebody] is above the law,” Escudero said.

He said the issues and the principles of accountability and transparency applied to all.

Asked if there was reason to be worried over the clash between the House and the Supreme Court, Escudero said he believed the country’s institutions were strong enough to withstand it.

He said the worst clash between two co-equal bodies took place during the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.

“I think our institutions are strong enough to withstand these types of noises and these types of issues notwithstanding the fact that our institutions are seemingly coming to blows,” Escudero said.

“At least, the collisions in Congress and the Supreme Court never cause traffic. We are all affected by the fights among our government agencies.”

On Sereno’s failure to appear during the congressional hearing on the JDF, Escudero said it was her prerogative not to attend as long as she sent an emissary who was capable of answering the lawmakers’ questions.

“Even the President does not go to Congress and merely sends a representative or official who is able to respond to questions,” Escudero said.

‘Trial balloon’ shows weak LP—analyst By Joyce Pangco Panares, Maricel V. Cruz | Aug. 08, 2014 at 12:01am

A veteran political analyst said on Thursday that the Liberal Party has no strong contender for the 2016 presidential polls, prompting it to float a “trial balloon” on whether President Benigno Aquino III should have a second term of office.

Ramon Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform and a much-sought political analyst, said the fact that the LP itself is raising questions about winnable candidates is in itself revealing.

“Understandably, the Liberal Party has a problem now because it does not have a strong contender. The ratings of Mar (Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas III) remain unchanged. His numbers are not going up,” Casiple said.

“For the LP, that is not a palatable scenario, so they come up with a trial balloon to test the sentiments of the public if they want another term for the President.”

“If they can get away with it (term extension for Aquino), they will do it to keep the power. But apparently it backfired on them so they have to disown the idea now,” Casiple added.

On Thursday, President Benigno S. Aquino III said that a term extension never crossed his mind, but a Palace insider said some leaders of the Aquino administration are underwhelmed by Roxas’ ratings.

LP secretary-general and Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, also denied rumors that the ruling party was planning to “adopt” a non-party member as its standard bearer in the 2016 presidential elections.

Sarmiento said the LP remains supportive of Secretary Mar Roxas as their standard bearer for 2016.

“Secretary Roxas remains our only choice for presidential candidate in 2016,” he said. But coalescing with other political parties is an option the party may consider subject to several considerations as we did in the 2013 midterm elections.”

“The LP is open to a coalition with other parties which share its ideals and platform,” he said. “We are willing to consider an alliance with any political group based on a continuity of shared values of anti corruption and social equity. We would continue to reform public finances and make public officials accountable. This is the criteria for possible alliances, not political convenience,” he added.

“The bottom line is that the LP’s would-be partners must adhere to the ‘Daang Matuwid’ of President Aquino, and whoever will be the standard-bearer in 2016 must be a person untainted by corruption,” Sarmiento said as he also denied any internal bickering within the LP.

* The Palace source also raised doubts on a possible term extension for Aquino.

“We don’t understand why Mar would even raise the idea of term extension,” said the Palace insider, who confirmed that some Aquino allies he declined to identify are now looking for alternative slates, like a ticket of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon.

“If you will review the President’s [state-of-the-nation address], he said he only has one guideline in choosing his successor: who will continue the transformation that the administration is now implementing,” the source said.

“He mentioned several names and then he said: ‘May duda ba na dadalhin tayo ni Senate President Franklin Drilon at Speaker Belmonte sa tamang landas?’,” the insider said. “Does that mean Belmonte and Drilon are his preferred candidates?”

But in a separate statement, Belmonte himself brushed aside talks about him running for president under the LP banner.

He said the LP will not draft him as its standard bearer but did not say who the party would name in his stead.

“I have nothing to say. The LP will not draft me. Maraming stars doon. Sila na muna,” Belmonte said.

Drilon, meanwhile, said the president will certainly anoint somebody who will continue his reforms and who can show that this candidate had supported the reforms done by the Chief Executive.

Drilon also played it coy when asked on the possibility of the LP picking him as its standard-bearer.

“They will pick me up in the “camote tops” plot. You can see me walk here everyday. I give it my best. The work in the Senate is my primary task and I will exert effort to regain the trust of the public to the Senate.”

As this developed, opposition United Nationalist Alliance said it was not closing its doors to anyone who would want to tandem with presidential aspirant Vice President Jejomar Binay to bring out a formidable ticket in the 2016 national elections.

UNA secretary general and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said that for as long as other parties have espoused a similar platform of government as that of UNA, then their lines are open for anyone.

But as of the moment, Tiangco said “there are no formal talks or communications yet” with regards to 2016 presidential elections following reports on the purported Binay-Roxas tandem in 2016.

“We are open to talks with anyone. And the first thing to discuss is the priorities in governance - if they share the same advocacy of UNA - which is poverty alleviation, and second, how they will be able to do it,” Tiangco said. With Christine F. Herrera and Macon Ramos-Araneta

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Hyatt 10 faction in LP sparking crisis — UNA Written by Charlie V. Manalo Sunday, 10 August 2014 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size Print 7 comments

2ND TERM, CJ IMPEACH AGENDA


UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) suspects the Liberal Party (LP) of President Aquino, particularly the so-called Hyatt 10 faction, is purposely creating scenarios that would spark a constitutional crisis.

UNA secretary general Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said members of Congress should resist and reject any move from the administration party that would trigger a political crisis and put government institutions in jeopardy.

The Hyatt 10 group is composed of former Cabinet officials of former President Arroyo who bolted her administration amid talks of election cheating after the 2004 polls.

“The recent talks about term extensions, impeachments and removals are distortions purposely meant to trigger a political crisis and pressure Congress to approve the P2.265 trillion proposed 2015 national budget — all for the intents and purposes of the 2016 agenda,” Tiangco said.

He added that the political noise that members of the LP are drumming up may be a ploy to smokescreen the hidden “election war chest” in the proposed 2015 national budget, and to pressure the Supreme Court to be more “receptive” to the administration’s demands regarding pending cases.

“There is a faction within the LP that will do anything to pursue their selfish agenda. There’s a group clamoring for the President to seek another term, and continue with their happy days, and some see these events as a forum to seek fiscal leverage,” Tiangco pointed out.

According to Tiangco, the discordant positions of the Press Secretary Sonny Coloma, presidential spokesmen Edwin Lacierda and Abigail Valte with regard to President Aquino seeking a second term and the threat of impeachment on Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno only show the cracks within the administration party.

“Obviously, the Palace spokesmen are speaking in discordant voices. Lacierda and Valte who are identified with the Balay group (allied with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II) are open to term extension and tinkering with the Constitution, while Sec. Coloma says the President has no plans of extending his term and will step down from office as stated in the Constitution,” he noted.

* Tiangco also warned fellow members of Congress not to fall into the trap of charter change (cha-cha) and impeachment as these would only give rise to a highly polarized Congress.

“At this point, the agenda of the faction within the LP closely identified with the Butch Abad-led Hyatt 10 is clear: to trigger a political crisis and protect themselves at all cost, even at the expense of putting in peril the chance of President Aquino to leave a noteworthy legacy. And who do you think would benefit from these scenarios? Clearly, it’s not PNoy,” he said.

Moreover, Tiangco added that tampering the Constitution to accommodate the whims of the Liberal Party or impeaching magistrates of the Supreme Court would undoubtedly have political costs.

“If this Butch Abad-led Hyatt 10 faction within the Liberal Party succeeds in their 2016 game plan, then they can easily walk away with five birds with just one stone. The idea is to make the SC impotent by shoving the impeachment yarn against Chief Justice Sereno; continue on with the cha-cha distractions by placing the fault on the President; divert the issue of DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program); push Congress to pass the 2016 hidden war chest in the GAA (General Appropriations Act); and most importantly stay in power in order to hide their misdeeds,” he said.

“In the next few months, we expect that this Butch Abad-led Hyatt 10 faction within the Liberal Party will increase their ante by way of derailing constitutional processes and bringing down political opponents by either threatening them with impeachment or ruining their reputation by filing extraordinary cases,” Tiangco said.

Valte, however, backpedaled and denied that she issued a statement that Aquino may have a change of heart over not extending his term beyond 2016.

“I would like to clarify that I never said that the President may change his mind,” Valte said.

Valte, in a regular press briefing over radio, claimed there was no actual interview from the Malacanang Press Corps where she supposedly issued the statement.

“Thank you for asking that because I’d like to point out that that was given over text and it’s not a radio interview or a TV interview. If you look at my quote, I did not say that the President may change his mind,” Valte said.

Valte said an emphasis was only given about Aquino’s stock line:”You are my Boss”.

“It was very clear, and I was talking merely of the President’s consistency when it comes to saying, ‘You are my Boss’, That was it,” Valte said.

Valte was asked in a text message: “Yesterday, Secretary Coloma appeared to have ended all speculations on whether the President will seek a second term. Why so soon? I thought the President made a stand to listen to his boss as what Secretary (Edwin) Lacierda earlier said.”

Valte then replied: “In 2009, Senator Aquino sought the presidency as a response to calls from the people. He has consistently held the people to be his bosses. That has not changed for the President and he continues to hold fast to this to this day.”

Valte said there was even no follow up question to her on whether Aquino would have a change of mind.
“So thank you for asking that,” Valte said.

Valte said the same question could be answered by Aquino in a consistent way.

“You’ll have to ask him that, but I think he’s been consistent from the very start. The President remains consistent about the matter,” Valte said.

Valte added the successor of Aquino should have a similar line of thinking of reforms in the government.

“We hope the next President is of like mind to continue the good things that are happening now,” Valte said.

Valte said it was an important thing for the President to have the reforms continued by his successor.

Valte added that Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan also suggested that inclusive growth could not be sustained by only six years of continued economic expansion.

“When it comes to growth, it cannot be just for six years; it has to be sustained longer,” Valte said quoting Balisacan.

On Vice President Jejomar Binay, Valte tried to evade a question as to what could happen to the initiated reforms of Aquino in case Binay would take over in 2016.

“That’s hypothetical. I will not answer that question. We will leave it to the political analysts and the pundits to dissect situations like that,” Valte said.

Binay had issued statement to those who tried to float the issue to extend the term of office of Aquino as “selfish”.

“I’m not quite sure who the Vice President was pertaining to, but I’m quite certain that it’s probably not the ordinary citizens who have been expressing their thoughts on this matter,” Valte said.

On the issue of cha-cha and to extend the term limit of Aquino, Valte said “the President has been focused on his events and the other matters that continue to need presidential attention.”

“The rest of the government continue to focus on the issues that concern the Filipino people,” Valte said.

Valte said she had a chance to talk with one Aquino’s sister, Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz, who had expressed disinterest in political discussion.

“You know, I had an opportunity to speak to one of the sisters, and Ma’am Ballsy is that, you know, she was expressing her personal opinion and she said, ‘I don’t want to be involved’,” Valte said. Paul Atienz


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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