Aquino: No more second term

MANILA  – President Aquino ended yesterday speculations on a possible term extension, telling a group of businessmen that having six more years in office was not “the right solution” to sustain the country’s growth.

Instead the solution, Aquino said, is choosing the next leader wisely.

“With regard to how do we sustain this after 2016, then perhaps I will vote for the right candidate. And if I can ask you also to discern properly as to who is extolling populist sentiments with no substance as opposed to those who not only say the right things but whom you can trust to deliver the same,” Aquino told the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI) during its 13th CEO Forum and 118th general membership meeting in Makati.

He did not identify any preferred successor.

“At the end of the day, again I have to reemphasize, this is really a collective effort. Even if there are some quarters saying I should try and go for a second term, I don’t think that’s a right solution. We all have a time card in this world and we have to prepare for the eventuality of being called to meet our Maker. So there has to be that continuation of people of like mind who will deliver on the promises that are real and not just self-serving or nice, pleasant to hear,” Aquino said.

During the 40th Philippine Business Conference and Expo in Manila last Friday, Aquino also hinted before local investors that he did not have any more plans to extend his term as he reverted back to saying that he was in the “last two minutes” of his administration.

Aquino was asked about how the Philippines could maintain or increase its competitiveness after ASEAN integration and how sustainable growth would be after 2016.

Aquino reiterated his administration had been investing much on education and skills training to equip the people, especially the young, for employment.

He said he would never be satisfied and had been pushing his officials to achieve more than their targets.

“I think we will redefine certain parameters… the 110 percent from current standards (will) just be the next 100 percent,” Aquino said.

“We believe the greatest single resource of the country is the people, hence all of the investments, not just in education but also in other social concerns like health,” he said.

Aquino said 82 percent of the population had already been enrolled in Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

“We have expanded not just the… coverage in terms of people but also coverage in terms of diseases, so that a catastrophic illness will not bring you back below the poverty line,” he said.

Aquino said the conditional cash transfer program was also modified to include families with high school children so that hopefully, with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s help and that of other agencies, they would get employed even if they only finished high school.

Aquino said one of the SEIPI member-companies trained high school graduates and eventually hired them. “So that, I think, is proof positive of the concept,” he said.

Aquino said the Department of Education had a budget of P161.41 billion in 2010 and by 2014 it was P281.77 billion. The Commission on Higher Education’s allocation rose from P1.67 billion in 2010 to the current P6.94 billion and TESDA from P2.89 billion in 2010 to P5.12 billion in 2014.

“And I assume all of these figures will also rise in the 2015 budget,” he said.