Issue of Aquino 2nd term divides Liberal Party
MANILA, Philippines–The ruling Liberal Party is sharply divided over a proposal to amend the Constitution to allow President Aquino to run for a second term in 2016.
Party members said the split may be resolved only through a party caucus or a declaration from the President himself.
On one side is the group led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II who fear that extending the President’s term would derail their campaign to amend the Charter, but only for lifting caps on foreign investments in the country.
“A second term means changing the Constitution. That’s not so easy. Anyway, I believe there is no divide, everyone has his own opinion,” said Belmonte in a text message.
An LP ally, the Akbayan party-list, had declared it would not join the move to amend the Charter to make it possible for Aquino to seek a second term.
“Frankly, this is empty talk that is discouraged by the President himself who has been firmly against any change in any part of the Constitution,” said Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello.
On the other side is the group of mostly “original” LP members advocating a second term for the President.
“Everyone has an opinion on term extension but in the ultimate analysis, we consult our constituents on major issues. This is the beauty of democracy,” said Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, one of the leading proponents of the call for Aquino to seek another term.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice has said that he would file a resolution seeking to amend the constitutional provision prescribing a single six-year term limit and no reelection, for the President.
Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said that while amending this particular provision of the Constitution would be “always difficult,” considering the potentially divisive process and the mandatory plebiscite, he has not shut the door to the possibility of the President running for a second term.
“If there will be a strong clamor from the people, then the party leadership will have to meet and take a stand on the issue,” said Tupas.
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