Chiz: Mar, Lacierda’s say on term extension ‘unfortunate’

Ayee Macaraig
Chiz: Mar, Lacierda’s say on term extension ‘unfortunate’
'It’s not allowed by the Constitution. I don’t think they should even be toying with that idea,' says Senator Francis Escudero, on calls for a second term for President Aquino

MANILA, Philippines – “The comments were unfortunate, to say the least.”

This is how Senator Francis Escudero responded to the statements of Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda expressing openness to the possibility of a second term for President Benigno Aquino III.

Escudero said he has no idea why Roxas raised the idea, and why Lacierda did not reject it outright despite a constitutional provision setting one 6-year term for presidents.

On Lacierda, the senator said this is not the first time the presidential mouthpiece issued a questionable statement. (READ: 6 more years as president? ‘Aquino will listen to his bosses)

Kailan ba siya naging maingat? (When was he ever careful?) It’s a usual problem of spokespersons. They have to clarify their own opinion with that of the President. [They have to realize that] whenever they open their mouth, it’s as if the President says it. Sana maliwanag na iyon after 4 years (I hope it’s clear after 4 years),” he said.

The senator added: “It’s open and shut. It’s not allowed by the Constitution. I don’t think they should even be toying with that idea.”

A friend of the President, Escudero said he talked to Aquino two months ago, and the President was already counting down to the end of his term, and even knew the number of days left.

The President has also repeatedly said in public that he is against moves to change the Constitution that was created during the presidency of his mother, Corazon Aquino, since the economy has managed to grow under the 1987 Charter.

Asked if the President should clarify that he is against a second term, Escudero said, “I think those who created this confusion should be the ones to clarify, not the President. With all the problems of our country, would we bother PNoy even with this issue?”

Escudero said that while Roxas clarified that his was a personal opinion, it was problematic for the ruling Liberal Party (LP) president-on-leave to make the pronouncement.

“That too was unfortunate, the opinion was made public. Kahit gaano kabuti ang isang tao, hindi pwedeng pagmay-ariin lahat ng galing at talento sa habang panahon. Hayaang iba naman ang umusbong (No matter how good a person is, he or she cannot possess all the talents and skills forever. He or she should let others emerge),” he said.

Escudero said he does not know what motivated Roxas to make the statement.

Asked if it was an admission that Roxas cannot beat Vice President Jejomar Binay in the 2016 presidential polls, Escudero said: “’Di ko alam. Tila malalim ang pinanggalingan noon pero hindi ko alam (I do not know. It seems it came from somewhere deep but I do not know why).”

Roxas said in an interview with ANC on Tuesday that he prefers a term extension for Aquino despite reports he will likely be the LP standard bearer.

Lacierda said the next day that Aquino and the Cabinet never discussed the idea but added, “The President is sensitive to the voice of his bosses, so let us just wait for it.”

Escudero took a swipe at the “listen to the bosses” statement.

“Alam ni’yo lahat nang tumatakbo, may clamor palagi eh. Huwag na pag-usapan iyon. Kung tatakbo ka, panindigan mo at ‘wag ipasa sa ibang tao (You know, everyone who wants to run for office cites the people’s clamor. Don’t talk about that. If you want to run, then stand by your decision and don’t point to other people as the reason)” he said.

Binay-Mar ‘so hard to fathom’

The statement on the term extension is not the only one that fueled talk about 2016. Another pronouncement that sparked controversy is Binay’s statement that Aquino might endorse him as president even if they are on opposite sides of the political fence – reportedly based on information from “credible sources.”

Binay is leader of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Escudero supported Aquino and Binay or the so-called “NoyBi” pair in the 2010 elections but he has since distanced himself from the Vice President. The senator commented on the possible Aquino endorsement of Binay.

“Sa pulitika, mas maraming matalinghagang nangyari na kailan man ‘di ko inaasahang mangyari kaysa diyan (In politics, more mysterious things have happened that I never expected to happen, compared to that),” he said.

How about a Binay-Roxas tandem? Escudero quipped, “Sobrang talinghaga na noon! (That is already so hard to fathom!)”

He also said becoming Binay’s running mate was also “matalinghaga (hard to fathom).”

Escudero reiterated that he is not yet thinking about the elections, or even forming a tandem with his close friend, Senator Grace Poe, who some observers say is a viable contender against Binay.

“Hindi ko pinag-iisipan at pinag-uusapan ni Senator Poe ang 2016 dahil sa tingin ko at marahil niya rin, malayo pa at maraming pwedeng mangyari (I am not thinking about 2016, and Senator Poe as well because I think and perhaps she thinks too that the elections are still far away and many things can still happen).”

‘Marriage before elections’

Escudero said politicians should just focus on work, not politics. “’Di ba kayo nalulungkot na 2016 pa ang pag-uusapan at ambisyon ng indibidwal ang pag-uusapan? Hayaan na natin sila, libre namang mangarap.”

(Aren’t you sad that with all the problems we have now, we are talking about the ambitions of individuals in 2016? Let them be. They are free to dream.)

He again joked about an impending wedding with celebrity girlfriend Heart Evangelista. He answered in the affirmative when asked if he prioritizes marriage over 2016.

“Alam mo, sa totoo lang, smell the flowers tayo once in a while. Ang dami nang gigil sa 2016, hayaan natin sila. Ayokong sumabay at makipagsabayan (To be honest, let’s smell the flowers once in a while. Many can’t wait for 2016; let them be. I don’t want to join them and compete).” –

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