“The basic principle here is clear. He (Aquino) has been counting the days and months left [in his term], and never did it cross his mind to aspire or ask for another term because our Constitution is clear in that regard,” Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a news briefing on Thursday, August 7.
Coloma distanced Malacañang from the pronouncement of Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II that he would like Aquino to stay longer in office so he can continue his reform agenda.
The Palace official deemed this as a “personal” pronouncement of Roxas, the Liberal Party’s presumptive standard-bearer in 2016.
“He has the freedom to express his sentiments, and the government, in no way, has anything to do with that. That is part of the democratic space in our society. So no particular attention is being given to that to encourage or initiate a movement. That is just part of free expression in a free society,” Coloma said in Filipino.
Roxas’ statement in an interview on ANC aired Tuesday night spurred speculation that Aquino may finally support charter change to lift term limits and allow him to pursue a second term.
Aquino has repeatedly dismissed efforts in Congress to amend even just the economic provisions of the Constitution, as the Philippine economy has managed to grow under the 1987 Charter.
The current Constitution was drafted and ratified during the presidency of his mother, Corazon Aquino. Their family and loyal allies have since opposed attempts to amend any of its provisions under succeeding presidents.
Asked about the statement, and calls on social media echoing the same, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Wednesday that while the matter has not been discussed in the Cabinet and the President has consistently opposed constitutional amendments, Aquino is also “sensitive to the voice of his bosses,” the people.
Senator Francis Escudero questioned the basis for issuing what he called “unfortunate” statements as he believed Aquino himself does not want to stay longer in office.
On Thursday, Coloma said that if calls for the President to seek a second term is an expression of support for his principled leadership, then Aquino “thanks them for their expression of support.”
“One way to look at it is it is…feedback from the citizenry. If you remember this past month the President said he wants to know the sentiments of the people. Perhaps this can be seen as an aspect of expression of the people’s sentiments,” he said.
Coloma was referring to the statement made by Aquino at the Daylight Dialogue last month, when he stated that he would ask the people to wear yellow ribbons – his symbol – if they still support him.
Aquino made the call after his public approval and trust ratings plunged to their lowest since he took office in 2010, eroded by the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). – Rappler.com