Poe, Escudero say they’re against BBL, lifting of limits
KORONADAL CITY, Philippines—Taking positions contrary to both the administration and the opposition under Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero told a gathering here that they were against the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the lifting of term limits for elected officials.
The BBL is being pushed by President Benigno Aquino III to clinch a peace agreement with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while the lifting of term limits for elected officials is a position taken by Binay, who has declared his intention to run for president next year.
On the first issue, Poe and Escudero, speaking at the end of the weeklong Tnalak Festival, said the Bangsamoro law as proposed by Malacañang would tend to create a separate republic within the country. This was something they would not allow.
‘Opt-out’ provision missing
Also unacceptable, said Poe, was an “opt-in” provision that would allow any local government in Mindanao and Palawan to join the Bangsamoro with a petition by a mere 10 percent of local voters. She said the BBL also lacked an “opt-out” provision.
“If there is an opt-in provision, there should also be an opt-out—like a trial period for five to 10 years depending on the situation,” she added.
On the extension of term limits, Poe warned that an incumbent president running for reelection would have “scary powers” at his or her disposal.
Poe recalled the 2004 elections when incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ran against her father, the late movie star Fernando Poe Jr. Arroyo won, but the exercise was rocked by allegations of electoral fraud after the president was caught in a wiretapped phone conversation with an election official during the counting period.
“If you are a sitting president and you run again in an election, you have scary powers at your disposal… we have seen how the position can be used to influence government officials,” Poe said in a press conference.
This was why she was against the lifting of the reelection ban.
“In the Philippines, a president has strong powers, which are not always balanced. In other countries, other branches of government could easily stop a president,” she said.
Based on the Philippines’ experience, there was good reason for term limits for elected officials, she said.
Escudero also opposed the lifting of term limits, adding that “no person has a monopoly of talent, competence, intelligence or good intentions for the country.”
“Nobody should be able to serve for life. Give others a chance, as they say,” he added.
Binay, who leads the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, earlier said he was in favor of lifting term limits for local officials. They should be able to serve in public office so long as the people want them, he had said.
As for the presidency, Binay said he favored a shorter four-year term instead of the current six-year term and no reelection prescribed in the Constitution. But the President should be eligible for reelection, he had added.
Poe is currently topping political surveys and may be a contender for the presidency in 2016.
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