MANILA (Mabuhay) – While President Benigno Aquino III believes there’s still a chance to push for Charter change and staying in Malacañang beyond 2016, his ally Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said there simply was no time to discuss amendments to the Constitution.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the opposition’s presumptive standard bearer, on Wednesday indicated his opposition to proposals giving Aquino a stab at term extension by reiterating his stand against Charter amendments other than those on its economic provisions.
Binay and Drilon made the remarks after the President said on Monday that there “[would] be a way” to amend the Constitution to give him the opportunity to extend his term if Filipinos would want him to stay on after his term expires less than two years from now.
‘No time for Cha-cha’
In a radio interview, Drilon said the Senate had too much on its plate to to discuss amendments to the Constitution.
“Alam mo sa Senado pinaguusapan na natin ang dalawang panukalang batas na kailangan naming tapusin agad,” Drilon said.
“Nandiyan ang Bangsamoro Bill, na kailangan matapos in the first quarter of next year, at itong emergency powers na dapat by October ay may talakayan na at by my estimate sa November pa namin matatapos iyan,” he said in a radio interview.
He added that the senators are now hearing the proposed P2.6-trillion 2015 national budget, which senators aim to approve by December.
“Hindi ko po nakikita iyan (Charter change), at wala pong panahon para diyan. Itong tatlong batas will occupy the calendar of the Senate. ‘Yan po ang sitwasyon. Ang mga panukalang batas na aming hinaharap ay mabibigat at hindi pwede basta basta madaliin,” Drilon said.
The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law needs to be passed soon enough for the transition to start as regards the proposed Bangsamoro entity that will replace the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.
Aquino’s emergency powers is said to be needed by October for the executive branch to have enough time to contract deals to avert a power crisis by the summer of 2015.
Passing the proposed General Appropriations Act has always been a priority for the Aquino administration to avoid a reenacted budget or having using the previous year’s allocations.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte have filed resolutions in the Senate and in the House of Representatives calling for amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution.
No resolution has been filed calling for amendments to the Constitution’s political provisions such as those on a President’s term.
No to Charter change, term extension
Binay, who has been topping popularity and trust surveys, didn’t say it categorically but expressed his objection to Aquino seeking an extension of his term.
“Basta’t ako I’m against Charter change except the economic provisions,” Binay told reporters when asked on his position on term extension. He was interviewed after his keynote speech at a mining conference in Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Pasay City.
Pressed if he would oppose the term extension of Aquino, the Vice President just said: “Paghalu-haluin mo na muna lahat basta sinasabi ko no to Charter change.”
The Constitution provides for a single six-year term for the President and bans the incumbent Chief Executive from seeking re-election.
After repeatedly expressing his lack of interest in Charter change and extending his stay in power, Aquino recently said he was considering pushing for constitutional amendments to balance the influence of the judicial branch against the powers of the executive and the legislature.
He also raised the possibility of seeking an extension of his term by saying he was also listening to calls for him to stay on as President.
Earlier this week, Aquino said there still was a chance for constitutional amendments providing for term extension if the people want him in Malacañang after June 30, 2016.
“Di ba may kasabihan tayo, kapag gusto walang imposible, kapag ayaw, walang posible. If the vast majority thinks that this the road that has to be taken, then there will be a way, based on the Constitution, to afford this opportunity,” Aquino told reporters earlier this week on board the presidential plane en route to Belgium. (MNS)