MANILA - Former President Fidel V. Ramos on Tuesday night said President Benigno Aquino can try to seek a new term but warned against overstaying in power.
Ramos, in an interview with ABS-CBN News' Lynda Jumilla on ANC Beyond Politics, also said Aquino should make a categorical statement if he wants to amend the Constitution and seek reelection in 2016.
"My point is... if your other leaders want it and some people down there in the field want it, go ahead," he said. "Try for it."
He, however, quoted what Leo Oracion, the first Filipino to climb to the top of Mt. Everest, told then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"Ang sabi ni Leo, he said, 'going up to the top is optional but coming back down is mandatory because you cannot stay at the top forever," Ramos said, directly facing the camera. "You got it?"
The former President said if Aquino is keen on remaining in Malacañang after 2016, "he must do something first before going through the motions for being reelected."
"He must make a categorical statement. 'I have to run because I have to protect my legacy or I have not yet done enough and I want to complete my reforms and if it needs amendment of the Constitution, let's do it,'" Ramos said. "Ganoon sana."
He said the President and Palace officials are giving mixed signals.
"Eh ngayon eh, paligoy-ligoy. Kung minsan, iba iyung sinasabi ng spokesman. Minsan, iyung deputy spokesperson," Ramos said. "Hindi ko na alam talaga kung ano ang daang matuwid, eh."
"Come out and not let everybody still guessing up to the last 3 months. By that time, it's too late, sayang naman. You can recover lost good will, reputation, wealth, and all kinds of assets. But time lost, you can never recover," he added. "We have 22 months."
Ramos said some officials in government may taint President Aquino's legacy. "Sayang naman yung goodwill, gains, legacy na dapat ipamana."
He also warned that all is not rosy after a leader steps down.
He said a president must always consider cases that can be filed against him or her in future when the person is no longer protected by presidential immunity.
Ramos, however, said this threat helps an incumbent do the right thing while President.
On Charter change, Ramos said there is a need to change the Constitution's restrictive economic provisions, particularly in foreign ownership.
He said foreigners should be allowed to own reclaimed land.
Ramos also said the government should put an end to political dynasties and turncoatism through the Constitution.
Like Aquino, Ramos received flak for a campaign to amend the Constitution and have him seek reelection while he was President.
Ramos, however, denied this and said he never wanted to be reelected.
"Who wants to spend another 6 years in that pressure cooker called Malacañang?" he asked.
President Aquino's mother Cory, while she was still alive, campaigned against moves for Ramos to be allowed to run for President again.
In an interview with TV5 last week, Aquino said he know his term as President is limited to only 6 years but he needs to listen to his "bosses" on running again.
"Well, nang pinasukan ko ho ito, ang tanda ko one term of six years. Ngayon, after having said that, siyempre, ang mga boss ko ho kailangan kong pakinggan rin e, at hindi ibig sabihin noon na automatic na hahabol ako na magkaroon pa akong dagdag dito," he said. "Pero ang tanong nga doon: Paano ba natin masisigurado na ‘yung mga repormang nagawa natin—at ‘pag nina-natin ko, lahat ho ng—mula ‘yung nagbigay sa akin ng mandato nandiyan nakikidamay sa akin, nasa gobyerno, wala sa gobyerno—na maging permanente na itong pagbabago natin. So pagkokonsulta ho sa mga boss ‘yon. Paano ba ang mas may katiyakan tayo na ‘yung pinaghirapan nating lahat ay talaga namang magkaroon na ng ugat at magkatotoo ng permanenteng pagbabago."
This drew flak, but Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Sunday on radio dzRB that not all are against charter change.
Coloma said the Palace' social media listening stations show that many support amending the Constitution to allow Aquino to run again. He however, said in the previous day that Aquino is interested in reforms and not charter change.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II on Tuesday denied that the Liberal Party is now laying out the groundwork for a new term for Aquino, while Senate President Franklin Drilon doesn't want a second term.
Senator Francis Escudero, who is opposing amendments to amend the 1987 Constitution, particularly on lifting limits on a President's term of office, believes that chatter about extending Aquino's term could be a "trial balloon" to deflect criticisms against the Chief Executive.