WE must continue to be vigilant and be ready to work against any moves to allow President Benigno Aquino 3rd to have a second term as president.
Section 4, Article VII of our Constitution limits the President to a single six-year term. The Constitution was drafted and approved under the authority of President Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino. She rejected attempts to give her more years as president.
It seems that Mr. Aquino and his men are really pursuing the possibility of extending his rule. This is apparent from the way the President keeps repeating the line that “he cannot ignore the will of his Bosses.”
The reasons he and his key allies in the Liberal Party and his closest associates in the Cabinet are bent on getting him to continue as president are, in a manner of speaking, a matter of life and death for them.
Politically, the Liberal Party is dead. This is because the people responsible for the gigantic instances of corruption and illegal and unconstitutional acts are among the LPs highest leaders, including President Aquino himself and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. In addition, the biggest recipients of hundreds of millions and even billions of the illegal funds of the Disbursement Acceleration Program are the pet projects of Liberal Party top officers, again notably Secretary Abad.
Morally and legally, President Aquino, Secretary Abad and several of the Cabinet members will surely be charged–when Mr. Aquino ceases to be president–with having committed corrupt acts, violations of the Constitution and various laws of the land. For sure, if the next president were a member of the opposition party, he or she would have to do his or her duty and file cases against President Aquino, Secretary Abad et al.
In fact, even if the next president were a Liberal Party man, including DILG Secretary Mar Roxas or even Senate President Drilon, just for example, he cannot be guaranteed to ignore the clamor of the people to prosecute Mr. Aquino, Mr. Abad and whoever else were more actively guilty of corrupt acts and criminal negligence during their years in the Palace.
That will surely be the case. It happened to the corrupt rulers and power holders in other countries, like South Korea and Indonesia, to name two whose political histories are more familiar to more Filipinos than other countries.
Therefore, it becomes really imperative for President Aquino, Secretary Abad and their closest collaborators, that Mr. Aquino should succeed himself for a second term or even for life.
The Constitution has to be amended to make that possible. And right now some congressmen–despite Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s announcements that he and the House leaders would only entertain proposed Charter amendments to make our country more attractive to foreign direct investors–are moving to repeal the Constitution’s term limits on the president and on legislators.
In the recent Senate hearing about the proposed 2015 budget, when the budget for the Office of the President was being discussed, Senator Francis Escudero asked Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa about the possibility of the President running for second term or extending his term. Secretary Ochoa replied by repeating Mr. Aquino’s often-heard words that he would “listen to his Bosses.”
Senator Escudero then asked: “How do we find out what his Bosses want? I mean, short of holding a referendum?”
Ochoa did not reply. Later, when reporters pressed him about Senator Escudero’s question, Mr. Ochoa said it was something that had not been discussed in detail. But he was sure “the President ha[d]something in his mind that he c[ould]clarify when he comes back from his trip abroad.”
Former senator Joker Arroyo’s warning
We wish to repeat the warning former senator Joker P. Arroyo, one of our country’s most honest public figures, sent us early this month.
“The numbers game will be a repeat of the Corona impeachment trial. That trial started with the eight Articles of Impeachment from the House and was cut down to three Articles in the end.
“It was a long drawn-out continuous trial, 4-1/2 months, not because the presentation of evidence on both sides was necessary but because the Senate leadership had to drag it out until they were sure they had mustered the 16 votes, necessary to satisfy the 2/3 vote.
“Once the 16 votes were achieved, the trial was speeded-up and concluded. Final score 20-3. Watch out.”