Philippines' President Aquino tells why he's open to 2nd term

Philippines' President Aquino tells why he's open to 2nd term

So, which is it, Mr. President?

President Benigno Aquino III opened another vein of endless speculation when he again hinted at entertaining thoughts of running for a second term, telling leaders of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and their allies in Malacañang on Friday that he was "slightly open" to the idea of extending his term of office beyond 2016.

But then he coyly said that he was hoping that he would not be the administration presidential candidate in 2016.

Was he being serious or was it just a ploy to avoid becoming a lame duck?

In a wide-ranging interview with the Inquirer, Mr. Aquino admitted that it was "all of that," meaning all of the reasons given.

Apart from not wanting the gains of his administration to go to waste, Mr. Aquino said he also wanted to fend off those who want to destabilize his administration, flush out the aspirants for the presidency in 2016 and fight those who want to make him a lame duck.

"If I close the door (to an extension) now, it will embolden these people who want to destabilize [the government]," the President said.

Citing the second antipork barrel protest and information supposedly obtained from the opposition grapevine, Mr. Aquino said his detractors were predicting his downfall after the Supreme Court ruled his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional in July.

"The feedback my sisters got is that they (detractors) were predicting I would last only six months after the DAP," the President said.

And contrary to what armchair analysts say, the President said there was still time to amend the Constitution, even the political provisions on term limits that would make it possible for him to run for a second term.

"I might do even better in a second term," he said.

Guarding reforms

The President first broached the idea of seeking a second term in a television interview last month.

His move was criticised as running counter to the legacy of his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, who is largely credited for returning democracy to the country following the fall of the Marcos dictatorship and shunning any move to stay in power beyond her term.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, an Aquino family friend, who has long declared plans to run for President in 2016 and is now fending off allegations of corruption, also declared himself opposed to the idea.

But Mr. Aquino said he was more serious about guarding the reforms instituted by his administration, which won by a landslide on an anticorruption platform in 2010.

Stopping 'judicial overreach'

"Paano kung bababuyin lahat ng ginawa mo? Sisisihin ka, lalo kang pahihirapan, dadagdagan ang utang mo (What if they trample on everything you did? Blame you for everything, give you even more problems and put you in even more debt)," he said.

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