Political comeback after Palace? Only when I'm needed – Aquino

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III is not ruling out a return to politics in the future, but only if there is a “need” that he must fulfill.

Otherwise, he looks forward to the “quiet life” that has eluded him throughout his political career and especially when he moved to Malacañang, he told Rappler in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, June 7.

Interviewed on Rappler Talk at the Palace Music Room, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa asked Aquino whether he would consider returning to politics after he steps down from the highest position in the land on June 30.

Aquino said that just that morning, he suddenly thought of what his mother, the late president Corazon Aquino, had advised one of her successors, whom he did not name. It applied to his own impending situation.

“Today, one of my first thoughts was she was advising one of her successors...[that] there is life after the presidency. So in politics, this is the penultimate job, going through all of the BS to get here and all the BS while in here. Unless there is really a need I need to fulfill, I look forward to a quiet life,” Aquino said.

The President indicated that having a long break – similar to what he did after his mother’s term ended and he worked at the "family farm" or  Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac – might help “recharge” him and allow him to consider a return to politics someday.

“I was just talking to some friends yesterday and I was explaining to them, after my mom stepped down, about a year later, I started working for the family farm in Tarlac, and I had a different lifestyle. Probinsiyano na ako doon [I became a country bumpkin], which recharged me. If I didn't get that, I probably would not have ventured into politics by 1998,” he said.

“So at the end of the day, I’m sure if there is a need that has to be fulfilled, and I think I can fulfill it, I will still adopt what my parents said: that if there’s something that can be done and I chose not to do it, I  wouldn’t be able to live with myself,” Aquino added.

'Involved' since 1972

Aquino began his political career as Tarlac Second District representative in 1998,  and served 3 consecutive terms, followed by a stint in the Senate in 2007, and the presidency 3 years later.

He said he had been directly and indirectly involved in Philippine affairs for the last 44 years, or since martial law was declared in 1972, when the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos ordered the arrest and detention of his father, the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

“To me, the turning point was martial law, 1972. I was all of 12 years old,  I’m 56 now – 44 years having been somewhat involved in all the affairs of this country,” Aquino said. 

Past presidents have made political comebacks. In the May 9 elections, Aquino’s immediate predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was reelected for a third term as Pampanga Representative, while Joseph Estrada was reelected for a second term as Manila mayor.

The Constitution provides that the president can only serve a single 6-year term and cannot seek reelection. A president who has served for more than 4 years cannot vie for the same office.

The Commission on Elections allowed Estrada to seek reelection as president in 2010.  Estrada maintained that he only served part of his term – from June 30, 1998, to January 20, 2001 – as he was ousted by a popular revolt and replaced by then Vice President Arroyo.

Arroyo ran – and won – in the 2004 presidential elections, having served the remaining presidential term of Estrada, from January 21, 2001, to June 30, 2004, or less than 4 years. – Rappler.com