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New York Times hits Aquino for ‘political mischief’

/ 09:03 PM August 29, 2014

President Benigno S. Aquino III . GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The “New York Times” criticized President Benigno Aquino III for alleged “political mischief” as he accused the Supreme Court of having grown “too powerful” after it voted against his economic program and of hinting at extending his term beyond 2016.

“President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines is now hinting at running for a second term in 2016, which would require a constitutional amendment,” read the August 28 NYT editorial entitled “Political mischief in the Philippines”.

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“He has also suggested limiting the power of the Supreme Court, which, on July 1, declared parts of his economic program illegal. That, too, would require adjusting the Constitution,” the same editorial read.

It said that these were “threats” that “jeopardize Philippine democracy”.

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In a recent interview on local radio, Aquino said he was not after a second term but that he was willing to listen to what his constituents had to say, citing how some have expressed their wish for him to extend his term.

“Am I the one who has this ambition to extend my term?… As I said when I first ran for office, ‘I’m no masochist,’” Aquino said in Filipino.

“Mr. Aquino wants more time to complete his reform programs, but there will always be unfinished business. The 1987 Constitution limits the president to a single six-year term. The Constitution was promulgated under his mother, Corazon Aquino, after the overthrow of the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Despite her efforts, the presidency remained a fount of patronage and a source of corruption. Mr. Aquino’s two immediate predecessors, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Joseph Estrada, were charged after they left office with illegally feeding from the public trough. Ms. Arroyo was charged with misusing state lottery funds. Mr. Estrada was removed from office and convicted of various corruption charges, but he was pardoned in 2007,” the editorial said.

Aquino has also been at loggerheads with the Supreme Court since it ruled that parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) were unconstitutional.

He claimed that the high tribunal has become “too powerful” and that “someone has to reassert executive authority”.

“Mr. Aquino believes that the Supreme Court has grown too powerful and that someone needs to reassert executive authority. By a 13-to-0 vote, the court struck down a spending program he created to stimulate the economy. It ruled that he had exceeded his authority in disbursing funds and that parts of the program consisted of irregular pork-barrel spending,” the same editorial read.

The editorial said that Aquino came to power in 2010 with the promise to rid the Philippines of corruption.

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It said that at that time, the country ranked 134th in Transparency International’s corruption index and 94th in 2013.

“Mr. Aquino should uphold the Constitution of a fragile democracy if only out of respect for his father, who was assassinated in the struggle against Marcos, and for his mother, who died in 2009 after leading the ‘people power’ that triumphed over the excesses and abuses of the presidency,” the editorial said.

“In practical terms, that means he should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up,” it said.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, charter change, Constitution, Disbursement Acceleration Program, New York Times, Politics, Supreme Court
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