No reason for Aquino to resign

THERE will be a constitutional crisis if the National Transformation Council (NTC) insists on calling for President Benigno Aquino III’s resignation, said Gov. Hilario Davide III.

Davide said he believes the people behind the move are pursuing their own political agenda.

The governor was reacting to reports that six officials from the Catholic Church, including retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, and three members of religious groups joined the NTC in calling for the President to step down.

The first paragraph of the statement, read by Vidal during his post-birthday celebration at his home in Sto. Niño Village, Banilad, Cebu City, said:

“The NTC has strongly articulated that the President should step down. We, bishops of the Catholic and other Christian Churches, have often been asked if there is moral basis to this growing demand. Recent developments have made this call even more urgent and imperative.”

Clarification

Instead of using the word “articulated,” Vidal said “advocated.”

NTC’s call came out following the incident in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25 that killed 44 Special Action Force members.

Former senator Francisco Tatad and former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales were present when Vidal read the statement.

However, Vidal, through his secretary, Fr. Jojo de Aquino, clarified that the statement was not his personal message but the stand of the NTC.

In a statement posted on the group’s Facebook page, the NTC said the 84-year-old retired prelate and their members gathered at the former’s house specifically to call for the President’s resignation.

“On Feb. 13, about 99 percent of the guests of Cardinal Vidal at his home were members of the NTC. They had a mass, ate a sumptuous meal, had a press conference amply attended by media people, and conducted a high-level NTC meeting right there at the cardinal’s office, all in all lasting for about five to six hours. For someone who ‘does not’ believe in NTC, the cardinal was surely very accommodating to NTC. Posible ba na basahin ni Cardinal in front of media cameras ang isang bagay na hindi niya pinaniniwalaan (Is it possible for the cardinal to read a statement he doesn’t believe in in front of media cameras), a statement that was so controversial because it was asking the President of the Philippines to step down,” the statement said.

‘Off tangent’

In a press conference yesterday, Davide said there’s no basis in asking the President to step down. It’s “off tangent,” he said.

He said if the group insists on the creation of a caretaker government, a constitutional crisis will arise.

When Vidal read the message last Friday, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma was behind him.

But before reporters could ask questions, Palma left, saying he had another meeting.

In a report, Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocesan media liaison officer, cautioned NTC against misinterpretation after they included the Cebu archbishop as one of the bishops who supported the resignation call.

Davide, an ally of the Liberal Party, said he wants to know who will replace the government if Aquino will be out of office.

Sa akong nahibaw-an (From what I know) there is a somebody who is close to the previous administration... They are just pursuing their own agenda, para nako ha (that’s what I think),” he said.

The governor said if the group believes the Aquino administration is not doing enough, it can go to court and seek redress of their grievances.

Earlier, Tatad, an NTC member, said the group received calls to organize a government that can fix the present government system.
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