Aug 242014
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s remarks about a possible no-election scenario in 2016 was not a mere slip of the tongue but part of a “conscious effort” by the “Balay” faction in the Liberal Party to extend President Benigno Aquino III’s term, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) claimed Sunday.

UNA secretary general and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said the Roxas-Abad group within LP, otherwise known as the “Balay” faction, appears to be floating the idea of not holding the May 2016 presidential elections.

“Yung mga gustong guluhin ang eleksyon eh yung mga nag-aambisyon sa 2016 but have no chance at all to win in an honest and clean elections. They have no chance at all that they [would] rather skirt the Constitution and acquire power illegally,” he said in a statement.

In an interview Friday, Lacierda seemed to have hinted at the possibility that the 2016 elections will be postponed when he said:  “Let’s wait for the endorsement of the President, kung sino ang kanyang hahayagin bilang kanyang kandidato sa 2016, kung sakaling itutuloy ang 2016 elections.

The Palace spokesman apologized for his remarks Saturday and clarified that the 2016 elections will push through.

“The President has neither decided on term extension nor on endorsing a candidate, owing to the fact that his efforts are focused on more pressing matters of state. It should be noted that the 2016 elections will push through, and that the administration will always follow the processes set by the Constitution. We regret the confusion that the statement may have caused,” he said in a statement.

Some groups have expressed alarm over Lacierda’s statement, especially in light of Malacañang and the Liberal Party’s pronouncement that President Benigno Aquino III is open to extending his six-year term, which will require amendments to the Constitution.
Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution prohibits the reelection of an incumbent president.

Holdover beyond 2016

Despite Lacierda’s clarification, Tiangco said Malacañang and the Balay faction, which is said to be led by Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, are already laying the groundwork for a no-el scenario because of the allegedly dismal showing of the administration’s presidential bets in surveys.

Roxas, who was expected to run for president in 2010 but gave way to then senator Benigno aquino III, is presumed to be LP’s top pick to run for president in 2016.

“No matter how they kill the story of Charter change, impeachment of the judiciary, Oplan ‘Noel’ or to the extent of testing the limits of the 1987 Constitution, there are signs of life of a holdover beyond 2016,” Tiangco said.

He did not elaborate on the supposed “signs of life”.

The opposition stalwart also described the calls for Aquino’s possible term extension as a “reckless attempt to subvert the Constitution” and an “implied bribe” to allies that they will be able to stay in power for three more years.

“Hindi naman puwedeng si PNoy lang ang may term extension. Lacierda’s message was: ‘puwede namang everybody happy’. If the President’s term is extended, syempre kasama na dun yung mga lawmakers na mage-extend sa kanya,” he said.

UNA will “aggressively and seriously” oppose any attempt to tinker with political provisions in the Constitution in order to extend Aquino’s term, Tiangco said.

Although there are measures at the House of Representatives that propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution, the proposed amendments are to economic provisions.

Adminstration allies at the House have hinted at filing resolutions to amend the term limits set on the presidency but none have been filed.

Neither Malacañang nor the administration Liberal Party have made an official statement on whether or not Aquino will push for term extension.

‘Make statements in English

On Sunday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte reiterated Lacierda’s clarification that the elections will push through in 2016.

In an interview on government-run dzRB radio station, Valte said she joked with Lacierda on Saturday to issue statements in English in the future since he is apparently not well-versed in speaking Tagalog.

“Sabi nga ho namin, sa susunod ay Ingles na lang po ‘yung kanyang maging pahayag dahil ‘yung naging pahayag po yata ‘nung Biyernes ay parang kalahati po Tagalog, kalahati Ingles,” she said. Xianne Arcangel/JDS, GMA News

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