President Aquino: I am not seeking a 2nd term
MANILA, Philippines–He will enjoy good food in the company of good friends and celebrate his freedom.
That’s how President Aquino plans to spend his first day as an ordinary citizen on July 1, 2016, the day after he steps down from office.
After taking a beating for entertaining the idea of staying on, the President on Thursday finally made it clear that he would not seek a second term, adding that he was not a “masochist.”
“One year and 10 months from now, I think I will be with [Undersecretary Rey] Marfil and [Assistant Secretary Jun] Delantar (his aide) on July 1 (2016), the day after I step down from office, and we will eat something really delicious. Then there will be a banner behind us that reads, ‘Freedom,’” he said in a taped interview on Bombo Radyo that was aired Thursday.
Aquino also spoke about his trip to Belgium, France, Spain and Germany next month to establish stronger relations with the European Union and invite investors to the Philippines and about speaking at the United Nations in New York on climate change at the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US President Barack Obama in the light of the Philippine experience from a series of natural disasters.
The President also said he believed he would get justice in the four complaints for his impeachment filed in the House of Representatives, which were brought by leftist groups that frequently staged rallies in front of the Aquino home on Times Street in Quezon City. Aquino questioned the motives of his detractors.
Aquino said his openness to amending the 1987 Constitution had nothing to do with seeking a second term, but rather concerned the need to limit the judiciary’s supposed “meddling” with the two other branches of government.
“Am I the one who has this ambition to extend my term?” he asked.
He went on to recite the difficulties that came with his job and whose “context,” he said, “appeared to have gone missing” when he first discussed the matter in an interview with TV5 two weeks ago.
“As I said when I first ran for office, ‘I’m no masochist,’” he said.
But while Aquino appeared to have shut the door on the idea of running for a second term, he had not stepped back from his stand that the powers of the judiciary should be clipped, especially after the Supreme Court struck down his economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The President reiterated that he was open to amending the Constitution to set “limits” to “judicial overreach.”
“It seems judicial [over]reach has to be reviewed and we have to put limits to it,” he said. “It seems that [the judiciary] has been meddling a lot and this makes it difficult for us to run this government.”
In his TV5 interview, Aquino mentioned the need to listen to his “bosses,” referring to the people, when asked about suggestions that he run for a second term.
But he also clarified that his response did not mean that he would “automatically go after an additional term.”
In the Bombo Radyo interview, Aquino elaborated on that statement, saying he was now “consulting” with the people on how to “ensure that what we have started will continue and become permanent.”
On his own, he said, he could tell his supporters that “there’s a limit” to his term in office. But he said he also had to deal with concerns about continuity of programs introduced on his watch.
“I also have to provide answers to that,” he said.
Row with Supreme Court
In considering constitutional amendments, a move he had consistently rejected before, the President was apparently still hurting over certain Supreme Court decisions.
He insisted that government officials who implemented DAP-funded projects were considered “guilty until proven innocent” based on the Supreme Court’s 13-0 decision on July 1 declaring certain DAP practices unconstitutional.
Last week, Aquino appointed to the Supreme Court Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, who defended the DAP in the high court and later asked the tribunal to reconsider its decision.
The President also resurrected former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appointment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2010, maintaining that it violated the Constitution.
Aquino used Corona’s midnight appointment as a major argument in campaigning for the ouster of the Chief Justice, who was eventually impeached in December 2011 then removed in May 2012.
The President replaced Corona with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. But even Sereno and his other appointees to the Supreme Court found certain practices under the DAP unconstitutional.