MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino on Tuesday said having a second term would not be the "right solution" to sustain the Philippines' economic growth beyond 2016, in the most categorical answer he has made to the question of whether he is open to extending his term.
"There are some quarters that were saying I should try and go for a second term. I don't think that's a right solution," Aquino said at a general membership meeting of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines (SEIPI).
The President made the remark in answer to a question by a SEIPI member about how the Philippines could maintain or increase its competitiveness when the ASEAN economic integration begins in 2015.
The ASEAN is the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines is a founding member.
Aquino was also asked how sustainable the Philippines' economic growth would be after 2016.
"We all have a timecard in this world and we have to prepare for the eventuality of being called to meet our Maker. So, there has to be that continuation of people of like minds who will deliver on the promises that are real and not just self-serving or nice (or) pleasant to hear," he said.
Choosing right leader
The President also said that to ensure the Philippines' competitiveness and economic growth, he would "vote for the right candidate."
He urged his audience to do the same, saying choosing the right leader was "really a collective effort."
Aquino asked them "to discern properly as to who is extolling populist sentiments with no substance, as opposed to (one) who not only says the right things but who you can trust to deliver the same."
Since August, the President has been coy when asked about the possibility of running for a second term.
What people want
In September, he told the Inquirer he was open to the idea because he did not want the gains of his administration to go to waste, while fending off those who wanted to destabilize his administration.
In an interview with reporters during his visit to Europe last month, Aquino said there was still time to amend the Constitution and lift the provision limiting presidents to one term if "the vast majority" thought it should be done.
Aquino and his spokespersons have been saying he would listen to what his "bosses"-the Filipino people-would say about a second term for him.
In a survey conducted by Pulse Asia, the results of which were published early this month, six out of 10 Filipinos-or 62 per cent-opposed amending the Constitution and allowing a second term for Aquino.
More than calling for a second term, Aquino has been advocating for Charter amendments to remedy the Supreme Court's judicial "overreach," after the high court struck down as unconstitutional portions of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
A second term for Aquino is a highly controversial proposition.
When Aquino in August appeared to hint at such a possibility, he quickly ran into opposition in a nation still haunted by the dictatorial rule of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Scars left by Marcos
The Philippines is still coping with the scars left by Marcos, who declared martial law in 1972 in order to stay in power.
Marcos was overthrown in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution after years of human rights abuses and massive corruption.
Aquino's parents were both prodemocracy leaders who opposed Marcos.
Aquino's ally and potential presidential contender, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, has lagged in election surveys behind Vice President Jejomar Binay.