PNoy not indispensable

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Thursday, August 14, 2014


THIS is double hearsay and the person who witnessed the conversation and the one who told it to me are both gone. The events that transpired after that supposed exchange took place, however, tend to confirm the story. Moreover, I have no reason to doubt the word of my source.

The story is that towards the end of the Cory Aquino presidency, some of her advisers and relatives were telling her not to step down, arguing that the country needed her to nurture the still infant post-Ferdinand Marcos democracy. Of course, many of them had their own personal reasons, including one close relative who reportedly told Mrs. Aquino during a meeting in Malacañang, “atin na, ba’t ibigay ‘nyo pa?”

But Mrs. Aquino was adamant that she would not stay any minute longer than her term allowed and made plain to everyone that she wanted an election to be held in 1992 to choose her successor. The rest is history. Cory remains one of the most adored figures in our nation’s history.

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Fast forward to 1997. The term of President Fidel Ramos was ending and some of his factotums were telling him that he had to stay on for another term of six years in order to continue the gains that his administration had achieved. Ramos appeared to have been titillated by the idea and the Pirma was born to amend the Constitution, through a People’s Initiative, and lift the ban on reelection.

The people, however, reacted strongly against the proposal and held massive demonstrations of their opposition to the idea of tampering with the Constitution for the benefit of one person. Ramos retreated, Pirma died and Erap Estrada was elected in 1998.

Erap was not able to finish his term, ousted by People Power II. Then vice president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took his place. On Dec. 30, 2003, she announced during a Rizal Day celebration in Baguio that she was not seeking a fresh term. The nation applauded.

She changed her mind quickly, however, falling prey to Palace Rasputins, who whispered in her that she owed it to the country to seek her own mandate and serve for an additional six years. She ran and “won” in a highly-disputed election that was remarkable for the Hello Garci scandal.

We all know what happened to Gloria during her second term. Her administration was hounded by so many scandals and she became very unpopular, almost hated.

Will Benigno Aquino III commit the mistake that his mother avoided but Ramos and Arroyo did not?

His 2010 running mate and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas started it all by proposing a term extension for Aquino. Palace spokespersons denied that there was such a plan but kept things open by adding that Aquino listens to his bosses – the people.

Aquino managed to distance himself from the discussion even as his own party mates expressed opposing views on Roxas’s proposal. Then, the other day during an exclusive television interview, Aquino hinted that he was keeping his options open. He, who has consistently rejected any attempt to amend the Constitution, is no longer discounting the possibility of a charter change that could bring out the lifting of his term limit.

Mr. Aquino should review history and act like a statesman by rejecting flatly all notions of a term extension. He was teary-eye during his last State of the Nation Address when he spoke about the legacy of his parents. He should honor them by acting just exactly how his mother acted when faced with the same temptation. Anything else would be lip service.

He should not fall for the lie that is being peddled that he is indispensable because he is not. Nobody is.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 15, 2014.

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