A second term for the President?

PHILIPPINES - In Brief 14 Aug 2014 by Romeo Bernardo

The Philippine Constitution prohibits it, which is why when the presumptive presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, sent out the trial balloon last week, analysts quickly shot it down as the desperate idea of one receiving low ratings in presidential preference polls. After all, it is well-known that the President is against any proposal to amend the charter, even the one-liner to free up economic limits that is being pushed by the Speaker of the House and supported by the business sector. Plus, it is no secret that the President, in the words of his Communications Secretary, “is just counting down the remaining months and days of his term.”

It thus came as a complete surprise that the President, in an exclusive TV interview last night, expressed openness to amending the charter to check “judicial reach” and possibly extend his term of office, saying that he will “listen to the people.” What is the President thinking?

Political analysts we consulted gave us differing views, including (a) that it is just a continuation of his spat with the Supreme Court for the moral high ground, (b) that is it a way to deflect attention away from closer scrutiny of DAP-funded projects, and (c) that it is to avoid becoming a lame duck. All reasonable. But then these raise the question, knowing the President’s aversion to the job will he actually go to the extent of pursuing charter change? Here, the answers we received were less definitive and while we get the sense that most believe he will not, neither do the...

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