Groups slam move to extend Aquino’s term

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

WITH the plans of extending the term of President Benigno Aquino III by his political allies, civil society groups vowed to oppose any move to keep him in power after 2016.

“We, from the farmer sector, are strongly opposing it as we have not felt any changes in this country and from his promises since he started his term -- how much more if he will extend?” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao secretary general Richard Colao said.

The issue erupted when Aquino hinted he is open for a term extension, and this was supported by his party-mates.


His ally in the Liberal Party, Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice is going to file a bill proposing to lift the single-term limit on the President, thus amending the 1987 Constitution.

Although Malacañang has not categorically stated Aquino’s interest in seeking a reelection, civil society groups would not want another “PNoy” to run in the next presidential election.

“If I am to be asked what he has done to the economy, as a farmer, I did not feel any changes as rice prices are still the same. My fellow farmers have the same plight from the previous country leaders, and the cost of living is increasing every month. Has he addressed our problems?” Colao said.

The Palace, however, is open for the revision of the Constitution despite the indignation from the public and some of the government officials, reports indicated.

“Still, the Palace is not shutting its door on the possibility of revising the Constitution, as Mr. Aquino has yet to decide whether to accede to the supposed clamor for him to take another shot at the presidency,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a news report.

With a strong opposition on the term extension, lawyer Beverly Musni, the Anti-Pork Barrel Movement convenor and spokesperson of Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao-Northern Mindanao chapter, said the attempts of Aquino and his allies in amending the Constitution will be futile.

“The current call for extension of the presidential term is unconstitutional, as it actually attacks judicial independence, hence, dictatorship of the executive in effect,” Musni said in a text message sent to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

She believes the plan is a desperate move to cover issues faced by Aquino himself.

“It is also resorted to by Malacañang to bar prosecution of graft and corrupt practices of [Aquino] rooted primarily on the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Allies bent on joining PNoy’s call for term extension are [a] threat to peoples’ demand for government transparency and accountability, and to democracy itself,” she said.

Both Musni and Colao said the best solution for it is not to resort to a term extension, but a major change in the government.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 22, 2014.

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