Vice President Jejomar Binay said the people behind the campaign to extend President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s term should respect the President’s decision to step down in 2016.
“President Aquino, through [Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio] Coloma Jr., has made known his sentiments on term extension. We must respect his decision and end this politically-divisive initiative,” Binay said in a statement on Friday.
He questioned the motive of those advocating the extension. “It was a selfish proposal to begin with, motivated more by personal rather than national interest. It was also unfair to the President.
The proposal put him on the spot and made him the object of criticisms which he doesn’t deserve,” the Vice President said.
Binay, who has indicated that he is running for President in 2016, added that he is certain Aquino will not seriously consider running again because doing so would damage the legacy left by his mother, late former President Corazon Aquino.
“Those who made the proposal don’t know the President. He is a decent person and will not cling to power. He is a student of history, and he won’t tarnish his mother’s good name just to please some personalities,” he said.
Coloma made it clear the President has no plans to extend his term.
“The President has been very clear in his declaration that he is now counting the months and days before he ends his term and not even once did it cross his mind to aspire or ask for a term extension because the Constitution is very clear about that [one-term limit],” Coloma said on Thursday.
But he added that the administration will not lift a finger to stop an online campaign calling for another term for Aquino.
Malacanang deputy spokesman Abigail Valte picked up on Coloma’s line also on Friday when she said the President cannot stop his Congress allies if they decide to pursue efforts to amend the Constitution to allow Aquino a term extension.
She added that it was up to the President’s political allies in Congress whether to support a Charter change initiative.
“While they may be allies, they still belong to a separate and co-equal branch of government and are perfectly entitled to pursue their own advocacies and issues,” Valte said.
She added that Charter change is not a priority of the Aquino administration.
“We can assure the public that the administration is focused on facing the real issues concerning our country,” Valte said.
“We have to recognize that these people are free to express their sentiments. The government is not involved in any way. That is part of our democratic space, free expression in a free society,” she added.
Coloma said if calls for the President to seek a second term are an expression of support for his principled leadership, then Aquino “thanks them for their expression of support.”
Senate Majority Leader Alan Cayetano has a different take on the presidential term extension.
Rather than pushing for an extension, it would be better for those who are supporting the initiative to work instead on extending the reform agenda of the Aquino administration, Cayetano said also on Friday.
He added that while he is against amending the Constitution to extend the President’s term, he is not against the reforms introduced by his administration.
“I have been fully supportive of President Aquino and his
administration’s tuwid na daan [straight path]reforms and platform of good governance,which have led to an impressive economic growth. Moving forward, the Filipino electorate must choose a leader who will continue what the Aquino administration has started,” Cayetano said.
Senator Francis Escudero said a term extension should not even be discussed and allies of the President should not be toying with it.
“I don’t even think he [Aquino] wants that. In fact, the last time I was able to talk to him he is already counting the days left in his term,” Escudero noted.
With CATHERINE S. VALENTE and JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA