MEMBERS of civil-society groups and the clergy cannot force President Benigno Aquino 3rd to step down because they only represent a small sector of the people, majority of whom are behind the country’s leader, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Sunday.
In an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Coloma again belittled what seems to be a growing clamor among the ranks of Catholic officials for Aquino to quit.
“Well, the President is determined to continue his service and implement the reforms he promised to our people. We believe that [call to quit]is only a part of the opinion of one sector,” the Palace official said.
Coloma was alluding to a statement made by retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz that the Catholic Church is determined to compel Aquino to vacate Malacanang amid controversies surrounding his administration.
Cruz supported the move of the National Transformation Council (NTC), which had convened a series of assemblies in a bid to force Aquino out of office.
The NTC launched its campaign in Batangas on August 27 and conducted another assembly in Cebu City on October 1 to call on the President to leave his post.
The group also called for the establishment of an “alternative government” in case Aquino quits. The convenors of the NTC believe it is necessary to preserve “the Philippine democratic and republican state and the peace, freedom, security and moral and spiritual well-being of the Filipino people.”
Despite this, Coloma said there is no reason for the President to leave earlier than June 2016 because the views presented by the NTC and its supporters run counter to the overall positive public perception of the Aquino administration.
“It does not reflect the opinion of the majority of our people who continue to support the leadership of the President and who continue to trust his ability to lead the country,” he added.
Last Friday, Coloma and Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda took turns in shielding Malacanang from NTC criticisms.
The two officials noted that majority of the people want Aquino to finish his term.
“The President is duty-bound to fulfill his mandate from the people. He remains firmly committed to pursue the reforms aimed at achieving stable and inclusive growth for the country. These reforms have been established on the platform of good governance and have gained acceptance by the vast majority of our people, as well as recognition from the international community,” Coloma said.
Former senator Francisco Tatad, in his column, wrote that the “heat is on” for President Aquino who, he said, “has sinned and continues to sin” against the Constitution. Tatad was referring to Aquino’s expressed openness in extending his term and for limiting the powers of the judiciary, which he accused of abusing its “reach.”
But Coloma countered that the real “transformation” has been achieved by the President for the people. That is, “the transformation of the country from being regarded as ‘the sick man of Asia’ to being Asia’s fastest-growing economy.”
Lacierda said majority of the people disagree with the view of the council, adding that Filipinos “live in a pluralistic society.”