DAVAO CITY — “Hogwash” was how Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte described plans by the administration to tinker with the Constitution to extend President Benigno Aquino III’s term of office.
This as Gabriela women partylist representative Luzviminda Ilagan said the proposed term extension is a “creeping dictatorship” and an “act of desperation” by Aquino’s partymates to shield them from prosecution linked to corruption.
Both leaders made these comments over speculations as the House of Representatives will file Joint Resolution 1 on Tuesday seeking to amend Constitutional limits on foreign equity.
Ilagan’s group, the Makabayan Coalition, fears this resolution may be a “prelude” to tinkering on term extension for the president, which is limited for a six-year term.
But Duterte, in his television program Sunday, took a swipe on Aquino’s planners for pushing his term extension by saying only he can “save democracy.”
“Give me a better reason than that. Don’t give me that hogwash, you rah-rah boys of the president. What democracy are you saving? Our democracy is beautiful right now,” the mayor said.
Talks of Aquino’s term extension popped up after interior secretary and Aquino party-mate Mar Roxas raised this in an interview few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Ilagan said in a press forum here that moves for term extension show the ruling Liberal Party’s bid to stay in power beyond Aquino’s term that would end in 2016.
“They are desperate. They don’t want to face plunder cases left and right after 2016,” Ilagan said.
She added that this shows cracks on the ruling Liberal Party as they appear split on their standard bearer for 2016 between Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is a close Aquino ally.
Aquino is facing an impeachment rap filed by Ilagan’s Makabayan bloc for misuse of government funds through a system called the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The Supreme Court ruled the program as un-Constitutional.
Budget secretary Francisco ‘Butch’ Abad, who orchestrated the DAP, is also facing plunder charges filed by Kabataan Partylist at the Ombudsman.
Ilagan fears Aquino is taking this fight to the point of amending the Constitution to clip the powers of the judiciary.
“He has challenged the Supreme Court. He wants the Constitution to be changed to clip the check and balance (of the three government branches). So he doesn’t want to be checked,” said Ilagan.
“God help us if his party gets what they want. This is a creeping dictatorship,” she exclaimed.
Ilagan slammed Aquino for turning from his words and from his mother’s legacy that is the 1987 Constitution.
“Just look at P-Noy, he said he is against cha-cha (charter change), that he is against changing the legacy of his mother (Corazon) that is (the 1987) Constitution. This Cory Constitution is crafted to prevent the resurgence of a dictatorship such as Marcos’,” said Ilagan.
Ilagan was an anti-Marcos activist along with her husband, the late human rights lawyer Larry Ilagan, who was jailed by Marcos in 1985. She also served as city councilor.
Mayor Duterte likewise criticized Aquino, saying the calls for cha-cha should not benefit him.
“The Constitution says there is a disqualification provision, so even if Aquino amends it, the clause attaches to the person,” the mayor pointed out. (davaotoday.com)