After years of saying no, Philippine President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino has finally admitted yes, he is for the amendment of the 1987 “Cory” Constitution. That’s bad news for a lot of people particularly his supporters who insisted that “it is not the President himself who wants to extend his term; it is the people around him – those who have vested interests.”President BS Aquino’s supporters also stressed, prior to his admission, that “Noynoy will not dishonor his mother’s constitution by amending it”. They were wrong about that too. I wonder what those people are thinking now? It just goes to show that the President’s supporters themselves do not really know what their idol is up to. Considering his supporters were wrong about where he stands on his desire to stay in power, this recent revelation coming from the President himself should serve as their wake-up call.
The advocates of the “Never again to dictatorship” did not notice that a wannabe dictator has slipped in under their radar. That’s because they were too busy reliving the “horrors” of the Marcos years. They didn’t realize that an Aquino is also quite capable of abusing his executive powers. Some people can be so blinded by their passion for the Aquinos to the point where they cannot see beyond the name. They cannot see that the man they call the “savior” of the Philippines is actually wreaking havoc in the country’s already fragile institutions.
There is also another group of people who will be disappointed if the President’s audacious announcement to amend the Constitution backfires. They are the people who have been clamoring for an amendment but were only after the changes in the economic provisions and a change in the system of government. They are the people who believe that lifting the restriction on foreign ownership will increase the country’s competitiveness resulting in better, cheaper products and services for the Filipino people and lasting economic gains for the country.
They are the people who believe that a change in the system of government from Presidential to Parliamentary system will improve the chances of electing a quality leader. They also claim that under a parliamentary system of government, it is easier to remove an ineffective leader like BS Aquino. The idea being that when a leader’s popularity rating has gone down, the political party’s members will have no choice but to vote for a change of leadership within their party.The positive effects of lifting the restrictions on foreign ownership and changing the system of government sound good in theory but is still debatable when applied to the Philippines with its padrino culture, indeed. However, the point here is, if the majority of Filipinos react with an outright no to any amendments in the Constitution because of their mistrust for President BS Aquino, their hard work lobbying for decades for their causes will simply go down the drain.
President BS Aquino may have agreed with the idea of tinkering with the Constitution but his main purpose is to prolong his stay in power and to punish the Supreme Court by removing their jurisdiction over the Executive and the Legislative branches of government. In other words, his reasons for amending the Constitution are selfish. Those who support him should consider the cost of extending his term. In a news report, it is estimated that the taxpayers would have to fork out 7 billion pesos if the President is serious about pushing for it. This includes creating a people’s initiative and holding a plebiscite. Considering the cost, let’s all hope the President was merely joking.
The Liberal Party to which BS Aquino belongs to cannot accept defeat. Survey shows their presidential bet, current Deparment of Interior and Local Governemt Secretary Mar Roxas will lose to Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016. Their solution is to extend BS Aquino’s term instead because he is still the party’s best bet. That says a lot about their party’s policy — that, ultimately, all is based only on popularity.
BS Aquino seemingly justified his call for a term extension in a need to continue the “reforms” he has started. The question is, what reforms? If his government actually instituted sound policies, it should continue even without him. The fact of the matter is, BS Aquino’s economic policies are not even sustainable. Government spending, which includes dole-outs through the Conditional Cash Transfers is not even effective in alleviating poverty. His priority projects are also questionable considering the country still suffers from power shortages and a yawning deficit in infrastructure critical to attracting investors.It was evident in BS Aquino’s responses during an interview with News5’s resident legal analyst Atty. Mel Sta. Maria that he is not really interested in genuine reforms that could last even after he is no longer the President. He didn’t even mention the changes in the economic provisions and system of government as a priority in amending the Constitution during the lengthy interview. That’s proof enough that the nature of specific constititutional reforms the advocates have been clamoring for all these years simply fly over the President’s head. What is most likely occupying his mind and keeping him awake at night is finding a way to get back at the Supreme Court for their ruling against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
There was no need to read between the lines of BS Aquino’s statement. His justification for amending the Constitution reeks of vindictiveness:
“And in fact in the 1987 Charter’s martial law provision, any citizen may petition the SC as to the factual basis for the imposition of martial law,” Aquino noted. “Ang problema lang ngayon, may nagtatanong, sobra ba?” (The problem now is, there are those who ask: Has it gone too far?)
He said under the current setup, the court can say, “Yung kongreso, executive, kumilos kayo, pero anytime, puede namin kayong kastiguhin…(Congress and Executive may do their work, but we can check them anytime).” Consequently, instead of being judicious with “judicial restraint,” added Aquino, “parang masyadong madalas ginagamit (it seems the Court is using its powers to check other branches much too often).”
You also don’t need an expert to say that the President of the Philippines could be losing his grip on reality. BS Aquino seems to have missed the point of checks and balances. For decades, members of the Executive and the Legislative branches of government have been abusing their power over the people’s money and it is only now that the Supreme Court has put an end to it. This is thanks to the people who bothered to file complaints against the disbursement of funds through PDAF and the DAP as a result of the pork barrel fund scam. The Supreme Court only acted on those complaints. The President shouldn’t blame the members of the Judiciary for doing their jobs and upholding the rule of law.
The truth is, the Supreme Court has become the Filipino people’s only ally in the fight against the abuses of the members of the Executive and the Legislative branches of government. Unfortunately, President BS Aquino and his minions are undermining the power of the Judiciary because their routine mismanagement of public funds has finally been exposed. It is therefore up to the Filipino people to protect the members of the Supreme Court from BS Aquino.
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