'2015 budget bars PNoy, Arroyo from running in 2016'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2014 12:28 PM | Updated as of Aug 24 2014 08:28 PM

Lawyer tells PNoy allies: Stop pushing for extension of term

MANILA -- Amending the Constitution will not prosper due to time and budgetary constraints, according to lawyer Romulo Macalintal.

“The Commission on Elections cannot even conduct a recall election in Palawan for lack of the required P20-million budget. What more of a constitutional amendment which may require P10-billion budget as it involves a nationwide campaign and plebiscite for its ratification by the entire electorate of the country,” he said.

He added that if some politicians continue to pursue amendments, it should be worded in such a way that previous presidents such as Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo can seek reelection.

“And when the term of the president is amended, what would then prevent similar amendments to lengthen the term of office of representatives, governors and mayors, and even barangay officials, from their present three-year term to four-year term or longer,” he pointed out.

“The 2015 budget does not include any appropriation for such a political exercise, hence, the legal and political impossibility of Presidents Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and/or Arroyo to join in the 2016 presidential polls,” he added.

Macalintal thus urged the allies of President Benigno Aquino III to stop using the phrase “extension of term,” which only validates presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s slip.

“They should be reminded that when we speak of ‘extension of term’ for elective officials, it is tantamount to saying that there will be ‘no election’ for these officials and that their term of office will be merely ‘extended,” he said.

In an interview with reporters last week, Lacierda stirred up speculations on a no-election scenario in 2016.

“Let’s wait for the endorsement of the President kung sino ang kanyang kandidato sa 2016 kung sakaling itutuloy ang 2016 elections,” Lacierda had said.

Lacierda then issued a retraction later in the day, saying: “The President has neither decided on term extension or endorsing a candidate. In both instances, 2016 elections will push through.”

“An extension of term of office of an elected official is undemocratic and therefore not allowed under our constitution. Thus, to amend the constitution to extend the term of office of an elective official is a clear circumvention of the democratic system of our government,” Macalintal said.