No directions from us to amend Constitution – Palace

MANILA, Philippines – Despite an interview wherein President Benigno Aquino III admitted for the first time that he is open to charter change, Malacañang insisted: “There are no movements from the Palace to amend the charter.”

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday, August 20, said Aquino was simply being “honest about his views on the Constitution,” but said this does not mean he is pushing for it.

“There’s no orchestrated move, and people are saying there is. There’s none. But this is a president who openly said that ‘I have a fixed position. I’m now open because of certain concerns to balance the judicial overreach and also judicial restraint,’” Lacierda said.

“None of the presidents previously have said that and initiatives were done to do charter change. This is not happening in this case. So that’s being honest,” he said.

A week earlier, in an interview with News5, Aquino admitted he changed his mind on charter change after recent clashes with the Supreme Court, which made Aquino feel the high tribunal abuses its judicial reach.

In the same interview, Aquino also said he is open to a second term – something prohibited by the Constitution – if the people willed it. He specified, however, it does not mean he would pursue it.

Lacierda also said that moves in the Congress supporting charter change – such as that by Aquino ally and Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice, who plans to file a bill calling for amendments to term extensions – were done without directives from the Palace.

“Congressman Erice has already mentioned that this is his personal initiative and he said that as much. Very openly, he said, ‘This is my own initiative, without any instruction from the Palace.’ And we can very well tell you, there’s nothing coming from the Palace,” Lacierda said.

Currently, the Constitution prohibits a president from re-election. Aquino's term ends in 2016.