Now that President Benigno Aquino 3rd has signified his intention to step down in 2016, Vice President Jejomar Binay said it was time for those “goading” the President to change the Constitution’s political provisions to focus on the more “pressing needs” of the country.
“The statement of the President that he will step down on June 30, 2016 should now end all these divisive efforts to amend the political provisions of the Constitution,” Binay noted in a statement on Friday.
“I am glad to know that we can now all focus on the pressing needs of our people and ensuring the institutionalization of government reforms,” he said.
President Aquino drew a flood of criticism after declaring in a recent TV5 interview that he was open to amending the Constitution to allow a sitting President to run for a second term.
Aquino said the current “judicial reach” prodded him to consider the possibility of a Charter change or Cha-cha.
The President had taken a swipe at the Supreme Court after the court ruled as unconstitutional parts of the
Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which his critics claim was Malacañang’s own version of the pork barrel.
But interviewed on Bombo Radyo on Thursday, the President made it clear that he will not seek another term.
“Now that the President himself has settled the issue, I hope those who are goading him to violate the Constitution will stop. I hope we can use the remaining time in the President’s term to unite our people and address our country’s problems,” Binay said.
The Vice President, who has openly admitted he is running for President in 2016, added that he is firm in his belief that “the judiciary should remain free from pressure coming from the executive or the legislative branches of government.”
“The independence of the judiciary from executive or legislative influence must be preserved,” he said.
The President’s interest in Charter change has triggered a clamor for him to step down. Among those pressing for him to relinquish his post are about 14 Catholic bishops from “Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” according to retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
Cruz did not identify the bishops but said that like him, they are dissatisfied with Aquino’s governance.
He said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas were not among them.
Reports surfaced recently that some military groups and other civil society groups were plotting a coup d’etat against Aquino.
Cruz said Villegas and Tagle will not take part in such a venture.
“I don’t think so, because they are very prudent people because of their stature … being a president of the CBCP [Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines] is not a joke, to be a cardinal is not a joke although they might support the move of his ouster, but you will not find them rallying in the streets,” he added, referring to CBCP president Villegas and Cardinal Tagle.
Despite spiritual ties with the family of the President, Tagle and Villegas will not hesitate to talk him into stepping down from office, according to Cruz.
Responding to a column of former senator Francisco Tatad published on Friday in The Manila Times, the retired archbishop said Tagle and Villegas “will come out in the open” to talk to Aquino and tell him to resign for the sake of peace and order in the Philippines.
Tatad noted in his column entitled “Will Cardinal Tagle and Archbishop Soc talk to Aquino?” that in 2005, the cardinal, who was then a bishop and CBCP president were among five clerics close to former President Corazon Aquino who tried but failed to convince President Gloria Arroyo to resign.