It is a political suicide.
This was how a stalwart of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition or NPC described President Noynoy Aquino’s plan to extend his term by amending the 1987 Constitution, which was drafted during the term of his mother, late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino.
Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian earlier withdrew his support to the planned amendment of the Constitution’s economic provisions after the Liberal Party or LP leading members said they will push to extend the term limit of President Aquino.
“This is political suicide,” Gatchalian said of the President’s surprise turn-around on his earlier position rejecting any moves to amend the 1987 Constitution.
Gatchalian cautioned President Aquino to learn from history when former President Fidel V. Ramos tried to tinker with the Constitution in 1997 to enable him and other elective officials to seek re-election, which is prohibited by the Constitution.
President Aquino’s mother, Cory – together with Ramos’ former vice president Joseph “Erap” Estrada, the Catholic Church and other religious groups the influential Iglesia ni Cristo and the El Shaddai – vigorously opposed Ramos’ move.
“What happened to FVR then was political suicide because all the economic gains of his administration, including the attainment of a tiger economy was put to waste,” Gatchalian recalled.
“The Ramos administration focused on Cha-cha during the homestretch instead of sustaining the nation’s march into a newly industrialized country or NIC,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Gatchalian also noted some parallelisms between Ramos’ efforts for Cha-cha and President Aquino’s to amend the Charter, which are both anchored on the fact that the preferred successors of Ramos and Aquino have low chances of winning the presidency.
“In the case of President Ramos, then Speaker Jose de Venecia was trailing by a mile against survey frontrunner Vice President Joseph Estrada which was one reason why the political advisers of FVR decided to go for Cha-cha to enable him to seek another term,” he said.
“In the case of PNoy, Mar Roxas is also faring poorly in the surveys against frontrunner Vice President Jojo Binay and this is the main reason for the current Cha-cha,” he argued.
Gatchalian said extending the term limits will only cause divisiveness among the populace and derail the much needed legislations to reduce poverty.
“This is a very divisive issue. Putting this in the agenda will not be productive for the country at this time,” Gatchalian said.
“The President should trust the people that they will choose a leader who is equally as honest and will continue the anti-corruption reforms he started. He should not under estimate the judgment of the people in making the right choice in 2016,” he added. (Monica Cantilero)