Aquino open to second term for PH president
MANILA, Philippines – While he remains firmly opposed to lifting term limits under the Philippine Constitution, President Benigno Aquino III appeared open to allowing a former chief executive to have another – but not consecutive – term.
Aquino expressed openness to the idea in a news conference with Japanese media in Tokyo on Friday, June 5, when asked whether he supports constitutional amendments that would allow him to seek re-election.
He said the Philippines' experience with the late president Ferdinand Marcos showed the dangers of consecutive presidential terms. Marcos was supposed to serve a second consecutive and final term until 1973, but declared Martial Law in 1972, perpetuating his hold on power until he was ousted by the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986.
"The South American countries went through a similar period. In their constitutions, a sitting president has to step down but can re-run after the intervention of a different administration. Perhaps that is something that the Philippines can consider," Aquino said.
He said while there are benefits to term extensions, such as not having to re-learn governance, it also has its inherent risks, as shown during the Marcos years.
"We open the doors to somebody who might emulate Mr Marcos and decide not to leave forever. And I think that's a very serious risk that my country has to avoid. I ask that we not consider reopening the Constitution for term limits," Aquino said.
The Philippine leader also shared that Philippine lawmakers are working on proposed amendments in the economic provisions of the 1987 Charter, but he will have to study the proposal first. (READ: House OKs charter change reso on 2nd reading)
"I have yet to see contents of the [proposal] to see if I can join them in their proposal. I have to study that particular proposal," he said.
A pet project of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, the economic charter change proposal seeks to add the phrase "as may be provided by law" to at least 7 sections of the Constitution. This would allow Congress to pass enabling laws that would lift bans on foreign ownership of land and mass media.
In August last year, Aquino surprised many when he indicated he was open to constitutional amendments, including lifting term limits. In the following months, however, he said that a second consecutive term can lead to abuse of power and later categorically junked the idea.
Aquino was asked about lifting term limits under the Philippine Constitution in relation to possible changes in the dynamics of ties between the Philippines and Japan under a new leader who may not share his policies or vision.
He gave his assurance that Filipinos would not vote for someone who would hurt the Philippines' ties with Japan, its biggest trading partner, among its largest sources of Official Development Assistance, and a dependable and strategic ally. (READ: Aquino: PH-Japan ties 'global example of cooperation)
"I don't think our people will elect a foolhardy replacement who will suddenly throw away all of these very good economic partnership we have with Japan," said Aquino, who ended his first-ever state visit to Japan Friday afternoon. – Mia Gonzalez/Rappler.com