Philippine President Aquino will step down in 2016: Palace

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Thursday made it clear that President Benigno Aquino III has no plans to extend his term.

"His declaration was clear that he was only counting the months and days remaining until he steps down and it has never occurred to him to aspire or ask for an additional term because it is against what the Philippine Constitution says," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in Filipino during a televised press briefing.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution bars the president from seeking reelection. It says, "The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time."

Coloma said Aquino knew about the call to extend his term but considers it merely as a sign of support for his leadership.

"Pinasasalamatan niya po sila doon sa pagpapahayag ng suporta (He thanks them for expressing their support)," he added.

Asked if the government should remind the public against such calls, Coloma said there was no need since the President's supporters are just exercising their freedom of expression.

"Kasama 'yan doon sa democratic space na umiiral sa ating lipunan sa kasalukuyan. Kaya wala naman pong partikular na atensyon na binibigay diyan para 'yan ay i-encourage o gumawa pa ng ano pa mang pagkilos. Kinikilala lang 'yan na kasama sa free expression in a free society," he said.

(That is part of the democratic space of our current society. And no attention is being given to encourage or promote such calls. We recognise it as free expression in a free society.)

In addition to netizens posting "One More Term" calls on Aquino's official Facebook page, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas also said in a television interview that he personally wanted Aquino to have a longer term.

Malacañang denied rumours that the term extension was being floated because of fears that the Liberal Party will not do well during the 2016 elections.