8/07/2014
Six more years, so hold on?

Are you guys really serious about calling for Noynoy Aquino to run for a second term as president?

And no, I'm not saying this as one of those critics of the president you so clearly want to get rid of. Yes, I don't like how he sees himself as god. Yes, I don't like how he's a hypocrite who portrays himself as above the patronage politics of this country, but plays the game very hard behind closed doors. But yes, I also acknowledge that he has done some good things for the country.

I said as much a couple of entries back, or maybe I didn't say it properly. Yes, he has done some good things for the country, but he's not the one who got the ball rolling. There have always been other people who, in their own way, have done good things for the country. If anything, Noynoy's election to the presidency in 2010 has galvanized those people, giving them confidence that what they have been doing for the longest time will be, err, maximized. (I cannot vouch for whether these people still have that confidence in 2014, however.)

That said, there are two things that make any discussion of six more years for Noynoy frankly ridiculous. The first is whether he himself is willing to go for a second term. He's always been a reluctant president - I won't repeat the back story here - and he has said as much in his SONA a couple of weeks back. And that address - that address had "goodbye" written all over it. Not that I'm suddenly trusting his very press release-y speeches, but I'd like to think he's been pretty consistent about this, not to mention all that came before.

The second is the Constitution. When Cory Aquino sat down and worked on undoing most of the damage Ferdinand Marcos inflicted on the institution, it was decided that nobody can have so much influence over so long a time, so the law on how long a president can serve was revised. Amendments to the 1935 Constitution allows a president to serve two consecutive four-year terms; this was scrapped when Marcos amended the charter in 1973. The 1987 Constitution now allows a president to serve for six years, but bars him from running for a second term. (Gloria Arroyo, of course, served for nine years, but she wasn't elected as president for her first three years, as she merely took over for the deposed Joseph Estrada. If she became president before 2001, the ban would apply to her as well.)

Noynoy, of course, is pretty adamant on upholding the Constitution. When there was talk of amending its economic provisions to liberalize foreign ownership, among others, he was vocal in his disagreement. I don't know if it's because he understood Filipinos will always be skeptical when the basic law of the land is changed, or if it's because he just loves his mother so much, judging from how he clinged to her Administrative Code of 1987 to defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program. But I digress.

Any discussion about allowing Noynoy Aquino a second term as president is a non-starter. It should be a non-starter. And yet here we are. We have at least two Facebook pages calling for a second term for Noynoy, amounting to roughly 7,000 likes. Again, this does not say much - people tend to be more stupid on Facebook, judging from those "Lee Min Ho is bisexual" hoaxes - but I should ask: are we that desperate? Have things gotten so bad in the Philippines over the past few years that we are willing to resort to bending the most important rules so we can finally see "change"?

In their defense, 2016 does not look very promising. Only two people have become pretty obvious with their intentions to run for president in two years' time. Vice President Jejomar Binay, for one, has gone as far as suggesting the dominant Liberal Party is thinking of adopting him as their standard bearer. Yes, you can't peel his leadership away from the fact that Makati is a progressive country, but you can't deny the fact that he represents the old school we are so tired of: an old school where dynasties are normal, corruption is a given and second best is good enough.

The other prospect is Noynoy's anointed one, DILG secretary Mar Roxas, the guy who was supposed to run under the LP in 2010, but only stepped back when Noynoy became an irresistible prospect. His abilities aside, his appeal to the voting public is quite limited, and his gaffes - notably the way he led government's immediate response to Yolanda victims - have held him back more.

So those two are no longer the least worst options. Who else is available? Grace Poe? She's only been senator for a year, and she's said she's interested in gaining experience first. Chiz Escudero? Maybe he's running - and if you're cynical enough, you'd think his relationship with Heart Evangelista is a play for voters' hearts - but he's kept quiet about it. Eddie Villanueva? I don't think anything's stopping him - except, well, for his son Joel, who's got his fingers in yellow pie and was this close to running for senator last year.

We're still two years away from the next elections, but it's pretty obvious we are getting impatient. For all that's been said about Noynoy being corrupt and Noynoy being a hypocrite and Noynoy being just like everybody else, there is still a sense that he has given the Philippines that much needed boost, that little kick in the arse that should get things going. (Thus, critics like me? "Anti-Filipino", to paraphrase the president.) There is a fear, a valid fear, that if someone perceived to have less integrity takes over as president, all of the "good" will be undone, and we'll be back to square one. But, again, are we willing to resort to bending the rules to keep the good times rolling? Are we willing to amend the Constitution to make Noynoy president again? Are we saying that everybody else who has worked to keep this country running - past, present and future - are evil and, thus, should not be considered for the top post at all?

Also, what makes you certain that a second Noynoy Aquino term would be good for the Philippines? I'm not saying it wouldn't be, but you shouldn't say it would. Ferdinand Marcos enjoyed wide popularity when he was elected for a second term in 1968, and you know where that led. The Constitution's six-year limit suggests that we can't have, as president, someone who is drunk on power, because - judging from our experience with Marcos, and later Arroyo - it doesn't lead to good things. You may say Noynoy is a good guy now, our least worst option come 2016, but I don't think buying his "I am a god" delusions and allowing him a second term is good for the Philippines. But, again, I digress.

Yes, this discussion should be a non-starter. There is no way Noynoy can be president for six more years, because the Constitution is explicitly against it. Period. No erase. But then again, MalacaƱang has been pretty vague about this: Sonny Coloma today said the thought has never crossed the president's mind, but yesterday Edwin Lacierda said this would depend on what the "bosses" say. And, as I write this, an administration ally in Congress is considering filing a bill to, well, amend the Constitution to allow Noynoy to run a second term. Oh goodness, please.

And your responses...

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