Aquino defends ‘checks and balances’ | Global News

Aquino defends ‘checks and balances’

/ 03:43 PM October 10, 2014

 President Benigno Aquino III AFP FILE PHOTO

President Benigno Aquino III AFP FILE PHOTO

BALI, Indonesia—President Benigno Aquino defended Friday the need for checks and balances in a democracy although he admitted it was sometimes tempting to do away with them so things could get done faster.

Speaking at the Bali Democracy Forum, Aquino juxtaposed democratic governments with authoritarian regimes which, he said, at one point of history had victimized his family.


“It can be said: In a totalitarian regime, things get done faster, whether they are right or wrong, precisely because there are no checks and balances in place. Very often, the consent and support of the governed are neither sought nor attained. Naturally, such a regime, one divorced from the desires of its people, will have weak foundations,” he told an audience made up of high-level representatives from 51 countries and various international organizations.


Other leaders who addressed the October 10-11 forum at Bali International Convention Center included outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Aquino co-chaired the forum with Yudhoyono, who is stepping down as Indonesia’s president in 10 days.

An authoritarian regime will soon collapse as the sentiments and wishes of the people are only second to the objective of staying in power, Aquino said.

“And as we have seen in history, all authoritarian regimes, regardless of the cause of their coming to power, will at one point make political survival the end-all and be-all of government,” he said.

“As leaders, all of us here have had our share of frustrations borne of the many factors that sometimes hinder the realization of our vision. This breeds the temptation to consider an authoritarian method, as this might promise immediate gains,” Aquino said.

He appeared to be alluding to controversies involving presidential term limits and Supreme Court rulings striking down the congressional pork barrel system and his Disbursement Acceleration Program that led him at one point to call for clipping the high court’s powers.


“(But) the lack of consensus and consent from the people, such a mode which offers quick, short-term gains, may be detrimental to society in the long-run,” he said, pointing out that the lack of consensus could lead to a system’s eventual collapse.

“Democratic institutions, after all, seek to free and enable its citizens, and the first freedom should always be from hunger, as my father once thought,” said the son of the late former President Cory Aquino and the assassinated former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

He said that empowering citizens leads to inclusiveness, stability and development and spoke of how the People Power Revolution that ended Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship and propelled his mother to power in 1986 became a defining democratic movement of its time.

He said “People Power” centers on peaceful determination and not force when responding to intimidation, and a consensus-seeking vision.

Mr. Aquino also took a swipe at his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, calling her ten-year presidency a “lost decade.”

“Under my predecessor, democratic institutions were compromised and weakened by a culture of transactionalism and impunity, where the very select few rode roughshod over the will and aspirations of the vast majority,” he said.

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Aquino said the “People Power” showed itself again when he was elected President in 2010.

TAGS: ASEAN, Bali Democracy Forum, Benigno Aquino, Foreign affairs, Government

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