Binay warns Aquino vs calls driven by self-preservation

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

VICE President Jejomar Binay gave President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday an advice on how to deal with supposed public clamor for him to stay in Malacañang beyond June 2016.

The President spoke on the issue for the first time on Wednesday, telling broadcast network TV5 that he is open to listen to the people on the matter of seeking reelection despite a constitutional provision that limits a presidential term to six years.

Binay, who is eyeing to succeed Aquino in 2016, said he respects the president's statement, as any national leader would want to know public sentiment on issues that will have "far-reaching consequences."

"What is important is that the voice he hears is an authentic and genuine voice, not one manufactured by quarters with vested interests who are driven mainly by self-preservation," the vice president said.

"We also need to keep our focus on pursuing our goal of improving the lives of the people for the remainder of the President's term and beyond," he added.

Aquino had been allergic to any attempt to amend the charter ratified under the presidency of his late mother, Corazon Aquino.

And it apparently took a stinging defeat at the Supreme Court (SC) on the issue of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) for him to change his mind as he lambasted the Court for seemingly breaking the balance of power between the three branches of government.

He said the High Court is deviating from the principle of judicial restraint.

Irked by the president's statements, a group of militant youth started calling Aquino a "megalomaniac" and "wannabe dictator."

“Aquino wants to weaken the court, not for balance in power as he claims, but to actually concentrate and consolidate the whole political power of the government in his hands," said League of Filipino Students (LFS) spokesperson Charlotte Velasco.

“This is not only to defend his own pork barrel but also to remove one of the democratic avenues being used by different people’s organizations for their democratic rights.”

Velasco also said calls for Aquino’s term extension is the exact opposite of reality, citing the government's all-time low performance rating.

“The satisfaction ratings’ plunge to 29 percent is one reference, and this data could be much lower in reality.
The regime cannot deny the growing dissent throughout the country,” she said.

LFS said that the people are calling for his immediate removal – either through impeachment or eviction through the mass movement.

"He has been stubborn and insatiably greedy in his defense of the pork barrel system and the DAP. Corruption and poverty have only worsened under his watch," militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said.

Militant lawmakers are itching to impeach Aquino for alleged betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the constitution and even graft and corruption, following reports that DAP money was used to bribe senators who ousted then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.

The other impeachment complaints focused on the alleged continuance of pork barrel system despite being illegal and the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States.

Malacañang belittled the complaints, which will likely be rejected by Aquino-controlled House of Representatives.

An administration ally in the House of Representatives described Thursday the proposed constitutional amendment that will enable Aquino to seek re-election in 2016 as a "political suicide."

Valenzuela City Representative Sherwin Gatchalian said he was surprised following Aquino's sudden turn-around on his earlier position.

"This is political suicide," he said.

The lawmaker cautioned the chief executive to learn from history, particularly the attempt by former President Fidel Ramos and his men to lift the term limits, which was vigorously opposed by various sectors in the society.

"What happened to FVR (Ramos) then was political suicide because all the economic gains of his administration, including the attainment of a tiger economy was put to waste because the Ramos administration focused on Cha-cha during the homestretch instead of sustaining the nation's march into a newly-industrialized country," Gatchalian said.

He also noted some "parallelisms" between the Charter change of Ramos and the current move by the Aquino administration to amend the Constitution, which are both anchored on the fact that the preferred successor of Ramos and Aquino have low chances of winning the presidency.

"In the case of President Ramos, then Speaker Jose de Venecia was trailing by a mile against the survey frontrunner, then Vice President Joseph Estrada which was one reason why the political advisers of FVR decided to go for Cha-cha to enable him to seek another term. In the case of PNoy, Mar Roxas is also faring poorly in the surveys against frontrunner Vice President Jojo Binay and this is the main reason for the current Cha-cha," Gatchalian said.

He said extending the term limits will only cause divisiveness among the populace and derail the much needed legislations to reduce poverty.

"This is a very divisive issue. Putting this in the agenda will not be productive for the country at this time," the lawmaker said.

He added, "The President should trust the people that they will choose a leader who is equally as honest and will continue the anti-corruption reforms he started."

"He should not under estimate the judgment of the people in making the right choice in 2016," the Valenzuela City lawmaker added. (Sunnex)

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