THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the biggest lawyers’ association in the country, on Monday expressed its strong opposition to proposals to amend the Constitution to pave the way for President Benigno Aquino 3rd to extend his term.
The group described as “implausible if not ridiculous” the reason given by the President to tinker with the Constitution—to clip the powers of the judiciary.
The IBP reminded Aquino that the Supreme Court was merely exercising its judicial power of review when it declared as unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
“The President must listen to the history cadenced in these words… and to the memories of the sufferings and sacrifices of the Filipino people under the former dictatorship which gives substance to the lessons learned in the same words of his mother former President [Corazon] ‘Cory’ Aquino,” a statement issued by the group said.
“It is thus the hope of the IBP, as the exponent and guardian of the Rule of Law in our nation, that the President would heed these voices of wisdom from a not so distant past, and listen to the lessons they impart,” it added.
IBP national president Vicente Joyas, officials and members joined the anti-pork barrel protest in Manila’s Rizal Park (Luneta) also on Monday to dramatize their opposition to the continued stay in office of Aquino.
Bam blames media
But Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th came to the defense of the President and blamed the media for sensationalizing the news.
“I think it was overhyped by the media,” he said in an interview aired over 105.9 Balita FM in Davao City last Friday.
“If you will base it on his interview, he said he is not necessarily looking for a second term. It did not come from him,” the senator, a cousin of the President, added.
In his interview with TV5, the President said he is open to amending the Constitution to address the extent of power of the Supreme Court.
He added that he will listen to the people who are calling for him to stay as President.
“What I know of him is that he is really looking forward to stepping down and going back to the private sector and to have a more quiet life after 2016,” Sen. Aquino said.
But Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said constitutional reforms and term extension are parts of a grand design for Aquino to get away from his accountabilities.
“What they are exploring, as we can see, is very self-serving, very selfish,” Zarate added.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has called as hogwash claims that many wanted the President to extend his term for him to save democracy.