Palace: Calls for Aquino's re-election part of free expression

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

MALACANANG considered Thursday continuous calls for President Benigno Aquino III to run again for president in 2016 elections as part of free expression.

In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also said that the Aquino administration is not "Big Brother" who could see all the actions of his people.

Big Brother is a reality game show franchise created by John de Mol wherein a group of people, known as "housemates" or "house guests" are living together in one house and they are being monitored 24/7 by in-house television cameras and personal audio microphones.

"Meron tayong kalayaan sa isang malayang lipunan dahil hindi naman 'Big Brother' ang gobyerno na lahat ng pagkilos ng mga mamamayan ay kailangang subaybayan at pagsabihan sila," he said in a regular press briefing.

"Meron naman pong sariling pag-iisip ang ating mga kababayan kaya ituring na lang natin iyan na bahagi ng free expression in a free society," Coloma added.

There were calls from some people for Aquino to run again for president despite prohibition in the 1987 Constitution that a Philippine president could only serve a six-year term.

Aquino could only be re-elected if Congress would amend the Constitution, but the President himself has repeatedly rejected proposals to amend the Charter.

Coloma said those calls for Aquino to run again for the highest post could be considered as expression of support for him.

"Naalala ninyo noong nakaraang buwan ay nagsabi ang Pangulo gusto rin naman niyang malaman kung ano ang saloobin ng mga mamamayan at maaari sigurong sabihin na ito ay isang aspeto ‘nung pagpapahayag ng saloobin ng mga mamamayan," he said referring to a forum wherein Aquino mentioned that if the public still supports him, they could wear yellow ribbons.

Asked if the Palace sees this movement as an insult to Vice President Jejomar Binay who openly declared his intention to run for president in 2016, Coloma said, "Kaya nga po ni hindi namin pinag-uukulan ng pansin iyan at wala pong mindset hinggil diyan."

Caloocan City Representative Edgar Erice is reportedly filing on Monday a proposal to amend the Constitution to allow Aquino's re-election.

However, House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II said the Erice's move will hamper the proposal of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to amend the economic provisions of the Charter.

"Now you are asking for direct amendment of the political provision of the Constitution, ang masama diyan magiging collateral damage ang economic Cha-cha ni Speaker," Gonzales, an administration ally, said.

Representatives Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Leyte), Jonathan de la Cruz (Abakada party-list) and Rodolfo Fariñas (Ilocos Norte) also criticized Erice's proposal.

"The proposal is self-serving and the people will vehemently oppose such move. Should the President support call for his second term, it means he disregarded his own principle because of the desire to stay in power," Romualdez pointed out.

De la Cruz agreed with Romualdez, saying the measure disregards the provisions of the present Charter.

"Grabe naman iyan, he (President Aquino) just disregarded his own presidential plans and worse is showing disregard to the Constitution," de la Cruz said.

For his part, Fariñas said that the Filipino people will be not delighted of the proposal.

"I am not in favor of the idea, and I guess neither would the President agree to such. Even the people would not welcome such a move," said Fariñas.

Erice said it is imperative to give the President the right to seek a fresh term to sustain the positive effects of the administration's reform agenda.

"I'm contemplating, and studying a possibility of filing an amendment to the Constitution that will allow two terms for the position of President," he said.

He said that he will still consult his constituents to gather signatures to support his proposal, which could be done through a resolution of Congress.

"May pagkakataon ngayon para matuloy ang reforms, kita naman natin ang ating GDP (gross domestic products) tumataas. Iyung credit rating, nag-i-improve ang ratings natin. So, marami ang interesado sa ating ekonomiya, maraming investor and we are the highest and fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia. Bihira lang dumarating ito, mayroon tayong Pangulo na matino, may Pangulo tayo na walang ibang passion kung hindi paano ipagpapatuloy ang nasimulan ng kanyang mga magulang na ikinokonsidera natng mga bayani," Erice said. (SDR/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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