It’s time for him to say, so long, farewell, goodbye and good night.
Not that its word is more precious than that of other papers, but when the New York Times joins the call for President Aquino to “gracefully step down” when his time is up, it’s prudent for him to listen.
Otherwise, if he persists in his childish ways and defies all reason and counsel, he will be completely isolated not only in this country but in the world. He could bring ruin to our economy, our democracy and our standing in the world.
‘New York Times’ editorial
In language that echoed the Lipa declaration of religious leaders on August 27, the New York Times expressed its view in an editorial published in both its US and international editions.
The piece is entitled, “Political mischief in the Philippines.” There’s no mistaking who is the mischief-maker. The action urged is bluntly stated.
The key passages leave no room for hair-splitting. Some Excerpts:
“President Benigno Aquino 3rd of the Philippines is now hinting at running for a second term in 2016, which would require a constitutional amendment. He has also suggested limiting the power of the Supreme Court, which, on July 1, declared parts of Mr. Aquino’s economic program illegal. That, too, would require adjusting the Constitution. These threats jeopardize Philippine democracy…
“Mr. Aquino believes that the Supreme Court has grown too powerful and that someone needs to reassert executive authority. By a 13-to-0 vote, the court struck down a spending program he created to stimulate the economy. It ruled that he had exceeded his authority in disbursing funds and that parts of the program consisted of irregular pork-barrel spending…
“Mr. Aquino should uphold the Constitution of a fragile democracy if only out of respect for his father, who was assassinated in the struggle against Marcos, and for his mother, who died in 2009 after leading the ‘people power’ that triumphed over the excesses and abuses of the presidency. In practical terms, that means he should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up.’
Many Filipinos, with Rabelaisian humor, seriously doubt whether Aquino is capable of graceful. But he will step down; we will have to split the difference between soon and June 30, 2016.
So what happens now, after the publication of this editorial, the issuance of the Lipa Declaration, the launching of the People’s Initiative, and countless other projects?
The unfolding scenario
I see the following scenario unfolding.
First, there will be a dramatic change in the language and tone of Palace statements and Palace-directed activities.
As he has done during stressful times, Aquino will withdraw to his shell and desist from issuing incendiary statements for a while.
Lacierda, Coloma and Valte will clam up and just concentrate on enjoying their paychecks, allowances and perks.
Kompre will fold up, and all this business about defending Aquino’s reforms will dry up from failure to identify the reforms. Makati Business Club will find itself without a horse to ride.
Inversely, the people’s initiative and the National Transformation Council will gain ground and adherents.
The administration will drop all talk about the president’s trinity of wishes: to amend the Constitution, seek a second term and reduce the powers of the Supreme Court.
Congress will change its priorities
Second, the Senate and the House in Congress will implement a radical change in their priorities and activities.
The House will abort its scheme to use the three impeachment complaints against Aquino as a lever to extract incentives from the President. Aquino will have no largesse to offer the porcine legislators. The impeachment will not go forward.
Speaker Belmonte may also abandon his plan to amend the Constitution, with respect to its economic provisions, for lack of Palace support.
The Senate will tone down the insane self-serving scheme of senators Trillanes and Cayetano to bring down vice president Jejomar Binay, from his front-running status in the presidential derby.
The chamber will withdraw its plan to redefine savings in deference to Aquino, and in aid of reviving the DAP.
Because of his groveling before the administration, there could be a serious move to take down Drilon from the Senate presidency. The Nacionalista Party could leave the majority coalition.
Congress will quietly set aside the Abad-authored bill and resolution that would legalize the DAP and exonerate Aquino and administration officials of wrongdoing in the illegal program.
2016 elections will proceed
Third, the President will dismiss all suggestions about resigning his office instead of waiting for the final bell to sound on June 30, 2016.
This means there will be no interregnum and no Binay succession to the Presidency.
Which further means that the May 2016 election of a new president and a new Congress will definitely push through. Positioning in that balloting will intensify. The campaign will begin for all intents and purposes at the crack of dawn in 2015.
Would-be candidates for the presidency, the Senate and Congress will accelerate their plans and preparations for the 2016 elections.
From kingmaker to spectator
Finally, Aquino will become a spectator, not a kingmaker, in the 2016 elections.
Instead of anointing a successor as he envisioned, he will be reduced to scrambling for whatever deal he can find and extract from his successor.
Like his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, Aquino will lose interest in stage-managing the campaign and the voting.
His endorsement will be regarded as the kiss of death. Any candidate who promises him a pardon will have to kiss his campaign goodbye.
DILG secretary Mar Roxas will carry the colors of the Liberal Party, just as envisioned from the beginning. With the billions of pork he commands in the 2015 budget, he should jack up his electability enough to warrant the continued support of his backers in the business community.
Sixto Brillantes will retire before the balloting takes place. The PCOS machines will also be retired, despite Abad’s insistence on funding them with another throw of P18 billion of people’s money.
Judicial supremacy aftermath
As I anticipated, my previous column on judicial supremacy (“The disputed doctrine of judicial supremacy,” Times, August 28) generated a lot of comment and heat.
Many readers were angry and disappointed. Some were supportive. And one reader accused me of being funded with DAP. I will not dignify the last with a denial, and will only tell readers to read the column carefully. My key assertion is that judicial supremacy is disputed doctrine, not a settled issue. And I documented the dispute.
I will take up the subject again in my next column. I have come upon new materials that enrich the debate.
I hope other columnists who write on legal issues will also take a stab at judicial supremacy.