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Philippine president open to 2nd term

Publication Date : 14-08-2014

 

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III is now amenable to amending the Constitution and extending his term apparently to check the power of the Supreme Court, a coequal of the executive branch.

The President said the judiciary appeared to be using its power to check the executive and legislative branches without restraint.

“When I took this office, I recall that it was only for one term of six years,” he said on Wednesday in an exclusive interview with TV5.

“Now, after having said that, of course, I have to listen to my bosses [the people].”

But the President made it clear that his statement did not necessarily mean that “I would automatically go after an additional term.”

He said listening to his “bosses” meant asking them how the “reforms” he had started would remain beyond his six-year term.

For Aquino to make another run for the presidency, the term limits set by the 1987 Constitution would have to be lifted. He had consistently rejected moves to amend the Constitution, a position he now seems to be reconsidering.

“Before all of these happened, I admit I had a closed mind. But now I realised that there is judicial reach. Congress and the executive may act but they can be punished anytime,” he told TV5 legal analyst Mel Sta. Maria who asked if he was still not amenable to Charter change.

The President was apparently referring to the Supreme Court ruling on July 1 that the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP), a Malacanang stimulus fund derived from government savings, was unconstitutional.

Last November, the high court also declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund, a pork barrel of lawmakers, unconstitutional.
Using power more

The President complained that the judiciary seemed to be using its power to check and balance the executive and legislative branches “more often.”
“It’s like instead of exercising restraint, [the judiciary is using] this power more often,” he said.

“Now, as a result, the balance between the three branches appears to be gone.”

Aquino earlier warned of a “collision” between the executive and the judiciary following the high court decision declaring his DAP unconstitutional.

He repeatedly slammed the Supreme Court over the decision and warned that such a collision might require the “intervention” of Congress.

The Palace has asked the Supreme Court to reverse its 13-0 ruling against the DAP.

Pending the resolution of the motion for reconsideration, the President, in his State of the Nation Address, asked Congress to pass a supplemental budget to cover projects previously funded under the DAP.

He also asked the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass a joint resolution clarifying and defining concepts such as savings and when the government could declare them.

Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier slammed calls for a term extension for Aquino, saying “it was a selfish proposal to begin with, motivated more by personal rather than national interest.”

 

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