FORMER President Benigno S.C. Aquino III attacked his successor, President Rodrigo R. Duterte, on the occasion of the 35th commemoration of the assassination of Mr. Aquino’s father, Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.
Mr. Duterte earlier yesterday, issued a message honoring the martyred senator, whose assassination marked the beginning of the end of Ferdinand E. Marcos’s dictatorship. “In this time of real and lasting change, we need more citizens like him so we can steer our country towards the direction where a brighter and better future awaits us all,” Mr. Duterte said in his Ninoy Aquino Day message.
Mr. Aquino spoke on Tuesday afternoon at a mass held at the historic Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City, the site of a week-long massive vigil 35 years ago following the 1983 assassination of Senator Aquino, the leading rival of Mr. Marcos.
Taking up contemporary issues, the former president said, “Madalas… po nating naririnig sa TV ang katagang nanlaban. Ako ho ay nag-isip na, ‘pag ang tao ho ay inaresto, kadalasan ho…pinuposasan po ang tao na ang kamay niya ay nasa likod, hindi po pinuposasan sa harap….Kaya ako ho’y nagtataka lalo na ‘pag bigla nilang sinabing ito ay nanlaban….” (We often hear on TV the term ‘resisted.’ It made me think that when you arrest a person, most of the time he is being cuffed behind his back. So, I wonder especially when they just suddenly claim the person resisted).
Mr. Aquino also said: “Ngayon po, hindi lang po bumaba ang supply ng bigas, sinabi nga po ng NFA (National Food Authority) ay naubos na at may parating, ano po ba ang naririnig natin?” (Today, the supply of rice has not only gone down, but the NFA also said there is nothing left (but) imports are due. What (else) do we hear?)
The former president said he has so far been careful with his statements. “Maingat akong magkumento dahil trato sa atin ay kalaban (I have been careful about commenting [on issues] because they treat us as an enemy).”
He then spoke about the upcoming midterm elections. “Sa susunod na taon, midterm elections na naman. Dapat klaro ang mensaheng ipaparating natin….Kung sang-ayon po tayo sa takbo ng bansa ngayon, iboto po ang kakampi ng administrasyon. Pero kung ‘di ka sang ayon, huwag niyo lang iboto ang ating mga kandidato, i-kampanya niyo pa sila. Palakasin ninyo ang magdadala ng tinatawag na checks and balances sa gobyerno,” Mr. Aquino said.
(We’ll be having midterm elections again next year. Our message should be clear. If we approve of what is going on in our country today, vote for the allies of the administration. Otherwise, don’t just vote for our candidates but campaign for them. Let’s strengthen those who will bring checks and balances in government).
Mr. Aquino was at the gravesite of his parents at the Manila Memorial Park on Tuesday morning. Asked by reporters about Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo’s capability to run the country, he said, “I’m very confident that she can.”
“‘Yun ang desisyon ng taumbayan (That’s the decision of the people),” he also said. “Ano ang karapatan kong suwagin o kontrahin ang desiyon ng grupong may karapatang magbigay ng mandato?” he said. (What right do I have to contradict those who have the right to give a mandate?).
Mr. Aquino is chairman emeritus of the opposition Liberal Party, of which Ms. Robredo is chairwoman.
Mr. Aquino said he hopes Mr. Duterte will follow the constitutional order of succession if he vacates the presidency.
“Sana ‘yung Chief Executive na nagpapatupad ng lahat ng ating batas, isa na ang Saligang Batas, ang magsabi ng constitutional succession. Iwan na lang du’n, kesa iwan sa personalities,” the former president said. (I hope the Chief Executive who implements all our laws, including the Constitution, will be the one to say that he will follow the constitutional succession. Let’s leave it at that, rather than leave it up to personalities). — Arjay L. Balinbin