President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday said he is not keen on running for a lower government position after he relinquishes his post in 2016.
The Philippines, however, can explore the possibility of allowing a sitting President to have another term, but not a consecutive one, according to him.
“Can I just clarify? I have no intentions of running for any position. Nasa newscaps ko kanina kasi ‘yon [That was in my newscaps] , that I hinted I might run [in 2016],” President said in an interview with the Philippine media delegation in Japan, where he is on state visit.
“The phrase, I think, that you should pay attention to is, ‘My nephews and nieces might decide to change their names,’” he added.
On Tuesday, Aquino told members of the Filipino community in Tokyo that some sectors are urging him to do a Gloria Arroyo and run for another position in the 2016 elections, so he can actively pursue reforms he initiated during his regime.
“There were suggestions that I should have my term extended so I could continue with the reforms I initiated.. When I told them that I’m not in favor of amending the Constitution so that my term could be extended, they now have a new idea. Why don’t I run for another elective position?” the President said in Filipino.
President Aquino’s two predecessors–Arroyo and Joseph Estrada –sought lower government posts after their stints in Malacanang.
Arroyo is currently representative of the first district of Pampanga, while Estrada is mayor of Manila.
Aquino was previously rumored to be toying with the idea of amending the Constitution to extend his term.
The President categorically denied this, saying he did not want to tamper with the legacy of her mother, late former President Corazon Aquino.
The 1987 Constitution was drafted and enacted under the first Aquino administration.
The Constitution gives the President a single six-year term and he or she is not eligible for reelection.
Arroyo, who was the country’s incumbent leader in 2004, was allowed to run for President as she was deemed to be serving the remainder of the term of President Estrada who was impeached and later deposed in 2002.
Citing other countries’ Constitutions and the case of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Aquino said the Philippines can explore the possibility of allowing a sitting President to have another, but not consecutive, term.
Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, and was overthrown in a bloodless people’s uprising that put Aquino’s mother, Corazon, in power.
“The South American countries went through a similar period. In their Constitutions, a sitting President has to step down but can run [again]after the intervention of a different administration. Perhaps that is something that the Philippines can consider,” Aquino said.
He added that while there are benefits to term extensions, such as not having to re-learn governance, it also has its inherent risks, as shown during the Marcos years.
“We open the doors to somebody who might emulate Mr. Marcos and decide not to leave forever. And I think that’s a very serious risk that my country has to avoid. I ask that we not consider reopening the Constitution for term limits,” Aquino said.
According to the President, Congress is working on proposed changes in economic provisions of the 1987 Charter, but said he will have to study the proposal first.
In August last year, he surprised many when he indicated he was open to the idea of amending term limits because he did not want the gains of his administration to go to waste, while fending off those who wanted to destabilize his administration.
In the following months, however, Aquino said a second consecutive term can lead to abuse of power and later categorically junked the idea.
Meanwhile, he assured that his “bosses,” the Filipino people, would not vote for someone who would hurt the Philippines’ ties with Japan, its biggest trading partner, among its largest sources of official development assistance and a dependable and strategic ally.
“I don’t think our people will elect a foolhardy replacement who will suddenly throw away all of these very good economic partnership we have with Japan,” Aquino said.