Palace adviser, Cabinet clash over transition call

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales yesterday defended his call for a transition president in 2010, saying that his challenge for presidential aspirants to make a supreme sacrifice for the greater good is foolish only for traditional politicians.

Gonzales also hit back at his colleagues in the Cabinet for dismissing his proposal as foolish. “Are we saying that our country is bereft of leaders who are stupid enough to offer themselves to make this sacrifice? Are we saying that we don’t have leaders now who love our country enough to be concerned with fundamental reforms for the country more than with their political ambitions?” Gonzales asked.

President Arroyo’s top security adviser was reacting to a statement of presidential adviser on political affairs Gabriel Claudio that no candidate is foolish enough to run on a platform of a reduced term.

Claudio said Gonzales’ statements did not reflect the position of the administration. “When somebody runs for presidency, he enters into a covenant with the people and that covenant entails serving a full term of six years,” Claudio said.

But Gonzales said it is only by running under a reduced term of two to three years that the future president will not be accused of benefiting from any change in government by amending the 1987 Constitution.

“That sacrifice entails accomplishing political reforms that would presumably involve change of political system and would require him or her to seek a new mandate from the people under a new system. Since when is this kind of sacrifice a stupidity?” Gonzales said.

He said the pursuit of fundamental reforms is the direction that every political force in the country today, including the administration coalition, should be taking in 2010.

Gonzales said his own party, the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas, which belongs to the administration coalition, cannot allow important national issues like political reforms, electoral reforms, including poll automation, to be shelved and discussed only after the 2010 elections.