P-Noy-Mar plot to extend term means instability

ernesto-m-hilarioNOW the cat is out of the bag.

Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II has admitted that he was the one who floated the idea of a second term for President Aquino, despite the clear constitutional provision that the Chief Executive would only serve a fixed six-year term without reelection.

P-Noy has apparently warmed up to his sidekick’s idea of a second term in Malacañang, despite an earlier statement that he would step down in 2016 after his constitutionally mandated term ends, but plays coy by saying that he has to first “consult” his “bosses”—the people—before making any decision.

But here’s clear proof that the bosses he professes to listen want him to exit Malacañang in 2016 and head off to Times Street, where he can spend his days tinkering with his lethal arsenal of 16 or so firearms, or listening to his extensive collection of compact discs.

According to a new survey by pollster Pulse Asia, roughly three out of five Filipinos do not want the 1987 Philippine Constitution amended at this time, though nearly half of them are open to having it amended sometime in the future.

The survey, conducted from September 8 to 15, showed that 62 percent of Filipinos do not want the Charter amended to allow a second term for President Aquino.

“For 62 percent of Filipinos, there is no need to amend the 1987 Constitution at the present time—with 32 percent opposed to Charter change at any other time and 30 percent being open to Charter change at some future time,” it said.

The latest survey also noted that opposition to Charter change now is the majority sentiment in each geographic area (61 percent to 68 percent) and socioeconomic grouping (56 percent to 65 percent).

The survey also showed that 62 percent of Filipinos are not in favor of Mr. Aquino running again for the presidency after his term ends in 2016.

“[About] six in 10 Filipinos [62 percent] are not in favor of President Benigno S. Aquino III running again for the presidency after his term ends in 2016, that is, should the 1987 Constitution be amended to allow for the reelection of an incumbent chief executive,” Pulse Asia said.

The survey results offer incontrovertible proof that President Aquino, Roxas and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) coalition are out of touch with reality on the ground.

More than that, the very idea of a second term for Mr. Aquino and attempts to to tamper with the Constitution for self-serving political interests demonstrates, in no uncertain terms, that power corrupts, and corrupts absolutely, as Lord Acton had warned.

If the President now wants to continue sitting in the Palace for another six years after 2016, this will be a
legalized power-grab being hatched by the LP. Should this take place, Mr. Aquino and Roxas will not be any different from former President Ferdinand Marcos, who orchestrated a grand scheme to impose tyranny so he could keep himself in power.

The Aquino-Roxas cabal to bastardize our democracy and trample the Constitution underfoot is pure hubris, any way you look at it.

Lopsided priorities

WHAT are the bright boys at the defense and military establishments, led by Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, up to these days?

Well, draw your own conclusion from the recent report that the Department of National Defense (DND) wants to purchase, for the astronomical sum of P5.405 billion, two antisubmarine helicopters.

That’s P2.7 billion each for two helicopters that we can only assume would be a deterrent against intrusive Chinese submarines in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

This planned purchase of two very expensive pieces of military equipment is highly questionable, considering that the possibility of Chinese submarines lurking beneath our territorial waters and posing a clear and present threat to the country is very remote at this point.

This shows the lopsided priorities of the DND/Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and raises the question: Who stands to benefit from this extravagant, but unnecessary, purchase? 

At a mere 10 percent of the purchase cost of the two helicopters, the proponents of this project stand to gain no less than P54 million from kickbacks. If the under-the-table deal is 15 percent, then it’s P81 million in public money that will end up in private pockets. And so on, down the line, since some proponents of government contracts are known to skim off even as high as 40 percent to 50 percent of the total cost.

The modernization of the AFP should proceed to counter both external and internal threats. But the planned purchase of two state-of-the-art antisubmarine helicopters to counteract what appears to be a nonexistent threat at this time is criminal extravagance, which, perhaps, Congress should look into. We can put P5.405 billion to better use, such as housing for the homeless, or the rehabilitation of areas hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan).

E-mail: ernhil@yahoo.com.

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