WATCH: In 2014 interview, Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas talks about term limits


Posted at Mar 06 2021 04:29 PM

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Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 88, warned against extending the term limits of officials in an August 26, 2014 interview on ANC's "Beyond Politics." 

In the interview, Bernas cautioned against lifting term limits, saying it was against the spirit of the Constitution. He made the remark amid a proposal at the time to extend the term of then president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. 

Explaining the reason for term limits, Bernas said: “To prevent a person from perpetuating himself into power. That’s basically it." 

"Although you could say a good man should be there for as long as he can. It’s basically to prevent the perpetuation of a person into power, and from experience we have had Marcos. That’s why a move now to be reelected is very much against the spirit of the con-com (constitutional commission). Very much against Cory herself," he said.

He was referring to deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in a peaceful revolution in 1986, paving the way for the restoration of democracy under Corazon Aquino, mother of the country's 15th president.

“Six years is long enough. As they say, four years is short fo a good president, but six is long for a bad president," Bernas said.

Bernas' commentary on the Constitution is a staple in constitutional law classes in various law schools. In the interview, he also warned against weakening the powers of the Supreme Court. 

Bernas, who has left an incomparable legacy in Philippine law, was was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission which drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution.