The Catholic Church reacted strongly to a statement of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that he is open to a term extension, declaring that it will not support any move to amend the Constitution and prolong the President’s term beyond 2016.
CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Thursday said he “cannot lend support to the constitutional amendments” that will only benefit those who are in position or a “one office-holder” or “one class of persons.”
“Constitutional amendments are justified only in the measure that they redound to the benefit of the nation and address long-festering problems arising out of ambiguities in the Constitution. We cannot support the proposed curtailment of the power of judicial review,” Villegas told reporters in a text message.
In an interview broadcast on TV5 on Wednesday, the President admitted thinking about amending the Constitution because he sees the need to clip what he described as the “limitless” powers of the Supreme Court.
Aquino said he was against Charter change but has now reconsidered his stance.
“Pero ngayon, napapag-isip ako talaga… yung tinatawag na judicial reach [But now, I’m seriously rethinking things. Because of the judicial reach],” he added.
Villegas explained that “judicial review is the only protection available to ordinary citizens.”
“Against the heavy hand of the State or transgressions of the Constitution by politicians, judicial review is the only recourse of the hapless citizen,” he said.
Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz urged Aquino not to amend the Constitution.
“Tama na yung anim na taon para makapahinga siya. Nasubukan naman pero hindi niya kaya [Six years is enough, he should rest. We have tried him but he fell short],” Cruz said.
Cruz, one of those who endorsed the first impeachment complaint against Aquino, added that the President should truly listen to his bosses–supposedly the people–who are eager to end his term, not to his bosses at the Senate and at the House of Representatives who only want to stay in their “beneficial offices.”
The retired prelate, also a former CBCP president, said Aquino’s dropping trust rating is a sign that his “bosses” are tired of his “useless” administration.
“Pababa na ang ratings nya. Mahirap namang sabihin na pababa nga ratings ng Pangulo, tapos pag nag second term siya ay tataas? Mukhang that is not logical [His ratings are going down. Can we say that his ratings will go up if he gets a second term? I don’t think that’s logical]” he added.
WITH REPORT FROM JEFRY M. TUPAS