Novaliches Catholic Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani on Monday called on the people to show their indignation over plans to amend the Constitution to allow President Benigno Aquino 3rd to extend his term.
Bacani said Aquino has the makings of a dictator who may work to prolong his hold on power once he is given the chance to extend his term.
“Pag binigyan mo ng ikalawang termino, mangangampanya na iyan habang Pangulo para sa kanyang ikatlong termino. Nakita na natin na kapag napahaba na ang termino ay tila ayaw na itong tapusin ng sinumang nakaupo. Kaya nga iyan ang dahilan kung bakit ayaw nating payagan ang second term ng isang Pangulo [If you give him a second term, I’m sure he will do everything to campaign for a third term. We already knew based on experience that it is so hard for a sitting President to relinquish his seat. And that is the very reason why we repel any attempt on term extension],” the bis hop explained.
Bacani could be referring to late former President Ferdinand Marcos who stayed in power way beyond his term after declaring martial law in 1972, paving the way for his dictatorial rule.
The 1987 Constitution that was crafted during the term of then-President Corazon Aquino, President Aquino’s mother, provides for a single six-year term for the President.
Bacani said Aquino would only ruin the legacy and the democratic reforms that his parents had worked and fought for. The President’s father is late former senator Benigno Aquino Jr.
The bishop urged the people to show their indignation so that the President can listen to the “true voices” of his bosses.
“Sana mga kababayan, iparinig ang gusto natin: Huwag ka ng magpa-extend ng termino… dahil sisirain mo ang legacy ng mga magulang mo, sisirain mo ang ngalan mo, sisirain mo ang bayan mo [I call on our countrymen to relay to the President our genuine voices that we do not want him to extend his term. He will just tarnish the legacy of his parents and may even create havoc in our country],” he said.
The bishop chided Roxas, whom he believes has been influencing Aquino to seek a term extension.
He said there is no public clamor for Aquino’s continued stay in office.
Bacani added that the real clamor was for the President to step down once his term ends in 2016.
He slammed Aquino’s justification that the primary reason why he wants to tinker with the Constitution is to clip the powers of the judiciary especially the Supreme Court.
“The Constitution has provided a check and balance system among the three branches of the government. Therefore, everybody including the President should respect this system,” Bacani said.
Just a ploy
But Sen. Francis Escudero also on Monday raised the possibility that talks about the President’s term extension were just meant to prevent him from being called a “lame duck.”
Escudero said it is possible that the people behind the move have vested interests and want to hold to their posts beyond 2016.
He added that talks about term extension are always being floated every time the term of an incumbent president is nearing its end.
“I believe that the reason behind the term extension issue is for him not to be treated a lame duck,” Escudero said during the weekly Kapihan sa Diamond hotel news forum.
The Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO) also expressed its opposition to a possible term extension for the President.
In a statement, the group said every call for term extension often resulted in undesirable consequences.
“Governance was disrupted, media became unduly adversarial and the general public was dismayed by fears of dictatorship,” it added.
“Surveys of public opinion all showed disapproval of those moves to extend the term limits of elected officials, either in the executive department or in the legislature,” the statement pointed out.