'Trust your bosses to pick your successor'
MANILA - A member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission which drafted the 1987 Constitution criticized President Benigno Aquino III for seemingly thinking that he is the only one who can continue to institute reforms in the country.
"We need systemic change. That's more than the capability of one person even if he's a Superman. And he's (Aquino) not a Superman," Atty. Christian Monsod said in an interview with "[email protected]" on Friday.
Monsod's statement came after Aquino said he was considering constitutional changes, including the adjustment of term limits for officials which may allow him to serve a second six-year term.
He said it is upsetting that Aquino did not sound like his mother, the late former President Cory Aquino, when he issued that statement.
The 1987 Constitution, which limits the President to a single term of six years to prevent a repeat of the Marcos dictatorship, was passed during the term of Cory Aquino.
"The President didn't sound like Cory. He sounded like [former President Ferdinand] Marcos in 1972 on questions of political issues beyond the scope of the Supreme Court... Then he sounded like [former President Fidel] Ramos in 1997 that he is the only one that can continue the reforms," Monsod said.
He said Aquino should trust his "bosses" -- the Filipino people -- that they will choose a leader who can continue his reforms after he steps down from office in 2016.
He stressed that extending Aquino's term is not in line with his "tuwid na daan" governance.
"The problem is the President seems to think he's the only one who can continue reforms. What we need is systemic change, radical, social change that cannot be done by one person alone. He should trust his bosses that they will choose someone who can continue the reforms."
'PNOY IS ILL-ADVISED'
According to Monsod, Aquino, in his last two years as President, should instead focus on implementing social reforms to sustain inclusive growth.
"He has good accomplishments pero to me kakulangan ni PNoy is social reforms."
"We're the only country with the lowest growth in this part of the world. Tayo na lang ang natitira with mass poverty. Tayo ang second highest in inequality. Ang dami nating problema. The solution there is social reform," he said.
He said he believes the President is "ill-advised." He also said he is disappointed with the administration's Liberal Party (LP) for announcing that Aquino is their top bet in the 2016 presidential elections in case the single-term limit is lifted.
"But what do you expect of politicians?" Monsod said.
'TERM EXTENSION WILL WORSEN PORK ISSUES'
While six years may be too short for a good President, Monsod pointed out that six years is too long for a bad one.
Therefore, extending this limit will only worsen the problems the country is facing, one of which is the pork barrel controversy.
He explained that if the President is allowed reelection, there will be strong temptation for him to use his discretionary funds to ensure his victory in the polls.
"It is sad. I don't know kung naiintindihan ng mga tao na pag ginawa yung gusto niya na alisin yung term limits and bawasan power ng judicial review of the Supreme Court, double barrel yan. That will worsen the pork barrel problems," he said.
"If the President is allowed reelection, it's an incentive for him, a very strong temptation to use his discretionary funds to assure his reelection. At the same time, babawasan niya yung judicial review powers of the Supreme Court, anong mangyayari? Then he will have his way in misusing people's money," he added.
Monsod said the high court's ruling declaring several acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional should not be used by Aquino as an excuse to clip the judiciary's powers.
He said disagreements between the three branches of government are natural and part of the system of check and balance. The President should learn to live with it, he said.
"That is part of the vitality of democracy. There are disagreements, but it is proof of the vitality of democracy... We solve it, our political leaders solve it with introspection and maturity," Monsod said.