Palace to NY Times: PNoy only explained DAP

Posted at 08/29/14 7:58 PM

MANILA - President Aquino did not commit "political mischief" when he called for clipping the Supreme Court's powers, a Palace official said Friday.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma issued the statement in reply to a New York Times editorial published Thursday that warned against any plan to amend the Philippine Constitution and allow Aquino to run for President again, as well as limiting the Supreme Court's authority.

"President Aquino is simply explaining to the Filipino people why the government is appealing the Supreme Court's recent decision on the disbursement acceleration program (DAP)," Coloma said in a statement.

The high tribunal unanimously struck down parts of the DAP as unconstitutional.

"Citing the court's ruling in the DAP case, as well as its decision upholding former President Arroyo's decision to appoint then Chief Justice Corona, the President believes that there is sufficient reason to review the 1987 Constitution on the issue of 'judicial reach,'" he added.

The New York Times editorial, titled "Political Mischief in the Philippines," said talk about Charter change for a second Aquino term and taming the high tribunal will threaten Philippine democracy.

Coloma, however, said it is "inappropriate" for the award-winning US newspaper to characterize Aquino's action as "political mischief."

He said Aquino has the same principles espoused by his parents, the late Senator Ninoy Aquino and the late President Cory Aquino.

"President Aquino remains solidly committed to the transformation of Philippine society that is anchored upon good governance upon the righteous path (‘ang matuwid na daan’) and on the vitality of its democratic institutions," Coloma said.

His statement did not discuss talk about Aquino eyeing a new term in office.

In its editorial, the New York Times said the President should step down from office when his term ends in 2016.

"Mr. Aquino wants more time to complete his reform programs, but there will always be unfinished business," it added.

"Mr. Aquino believes that the Supreme Court has grown too powerful and that someone needs to reassert executive authority," the newspaper said.

"Mr. Aquino should uphold the Constitution of a fragile democracy if only out of respect for his father, who was assassinated in the struggle against Marcos, and for his mother, who died in 2009 after leading the 'people power' that triumphed over the excesses and abuses of the presidency," the New York Times said.

"In practical terms, that means he should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up," it said.

Speaking to Bombo Radyo Philippines, Aquino hinted at stepping down when asked about his plans for 2016.

However, he made no categorical statement if he wants another term.

"One year, 10 months from now palagay ko kasama ko si Asec. Marfil at Asec. Delantar... July 1, the day after bumaba kami sa pwesto, kakain kami ng masarap talaga, tapos may streamer na nakalagay sa likod 'Kalayaan,'" he said.

But in the same interview, Aquino also admitted that there are ongoing consultations on the issue of lifting term limits.

"Sa ngayon nagkokonsulta tayo sa iba't-ibang sektor at tinatanong natin... Pa'no natin masisigurado na 'yun naumpisahan natin ay maging permanente?" he said.

He said there is public clamor for another term.

"May pinuntahan akong burol. May lumapit sa aking ale na hindi ko kilala. Ang sabi niya sa akin, 'Huwag po ninyong iiwan 'yong Pilipinas,'" he said." Tapos inulit niya, 'Kailangan pa namin ho kayo. Marami pa hong kailangang gawin. Dapat ituloy na ho ninyo,'" Aquino said.