AFTER keeping his cards close to his chest for quite sometime, President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday said he is now open to the idea of a possible term extension to ensure that the era of reform he has begun continues to unfold beyond a six-year term.
In an interview broadcast on TV5 on Wednesday, the President admitted thinking about amending the Constitution, seeing the need to clip what he described as the “limitless” powers of the Supreme Court.
Replying to the question whether he still shunned the thought of amending the Constitution, he said:
“Bago nito, bago nangyari lahat ng ito, sarado… aminado ako [Before all these things happened, I was closed to it, I admit that].
“Pero ngayon, napapag-isip ako talaga… yung tinatawag na judicial reach [But now, I’m seriously rethinking things. Because of the judicial reach],” he added.
The President, however, expressed concern that opening up the Constitution to amendments could result in some of the “good provisions” also being “diluted.”
He recalled that the 1987 Constitution mandated the Supreme Court to step into even political questions, in contrast to the set-up when the Marcos-era SC refused to check the executive on the 1972 martial law declaration because it was a “political question.”
Instead of having “judicial restraint,” Aquino said that “it seems the court is using its powers to check other branches much too often.”
“Ngayon, yung balance between the three branches, tila nawala [Now, the balance between the three branches seems to have vanished),” he added.
The current Constitution was drafted and ratified during the presidency of his mother, Corazon Aquino. Under the Constitution, the President has a six-year term and is barred from seeking reelection.
Their family and loyal allies have since opposed attempts to amend any of its provisions under succeeding presidents.
Asked whether he would be open to seeking another term in office, Aquino said he is willing to listen to his bosses.
“Nung pinasukan ko ito, ang tanda ko one term of six years… Ngayon, after having said that, syempre ang mga boss ko, kelangan kong pakinggan ‘yon… [I remember that I am good for one fixed term of six years, now after having said that, of course I need to listen to my bosses],” he said, referring to the people.
But, Aquino also noted that it doesn’t automatically mean that he will be chasing after another term.
The President said he wanted to ask his bosses first, “How do we ensure the reforms we began will become permanent?”
The idea of a term extension for the President was first proposed by some administration supporters in social networking sites, shortly after his State of the Nation Address last month.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. initially stated that the President would step down when his six-year mandate ends in 2016.
Coloma claimed that a term extension has never crossed the mind of the President, who was supposedly busy with governance.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda, however, later said the proposed term extension has already reached the President, adding that Aquino is always “sensitive” to the voice of the people.
Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte later echoed Lacierda’s statements that were later confirmed by Aquino.