MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines on Monday said President Benigno Aquino III’s desire to amend the 1987 Constitution casts doubts on whether he is still fit to govern the country.
“To cite the purported need to amend because he lost in the Disbursement Acceleration Program case where the program was declared unconstitutional, simply taxes our credulity, undermines and defies reason and puts to great doubt the ability of the President to govern under the Rule of Law,” the group said in a statement.
The group was referring to the rift between the executive and the judiciary following the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring portions of the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as partially unconstitutional.
The decision pitted Aquino with the high court, with the President openly criticizing the tribunal and accusing it of standing in the way of his administration’s reforms.
The decision has become the basis for at least two impeachment complaints against Aquino.
“The IBP is impelled to state for the record its official unequivocal opposition to amend the 1987 Constitution for the purpose of clipping the power of the Supreme Court and allowing President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to seek a second term for the presidency of the country,” it said.
The IBP quoted a speech that Mrs. Aquino delivered at the Luneta Park on September 21, 1997 where she openly expressed her opposition to then-President Fidel Ramos’ proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution to lift term limits of elected officials.
“The same words apply today. Former President Cory Aquino called on then President Ramos to remember that the presidency is a rare gift that one person – any person – ould and should have only once,” the IBP said.
The group expressed hopes that Aquino would heed his mother’s “voice from a not so distant past, and listen to the lessons they impart.”
“The President must listen to the history cadenced in (his mother’s) words, to the wisdom contained in these verses, and to the memories of sufferings and sacrifices of the Filipino people under the former dictatorship which give substance to the lessons learned in these same words of his very mother former President Cory Aquino,” said the IBP.
The group branded as an “assault to our elementary sense of order” the attempts to “bully justices into submission under threat of impeachment” and the congressional probe on the Judiciary Development Fund.
The IBP stressed that the authority and power being exercised by the Supreme Court was given by the “the people – President Aquino’s bosses” through the crafting of the 1987 Constitution during the incumbency of his mother.
“The men and women who authored the Freedom Constitution, just freed from dictatorship, had reason to expand judicial power and the concomitant power of judicial review,” the group said.
Two weeks ago, Aquino said in a television interview that he was now open to amending the 1987 Constitution to limit the judiciary’s reach on the executive and the legislature. He said the current Charter does not balance the powers of the three government branches. (MNS)