PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III lashed out at all the presidential aspirants except his chosen successor, Manuel Roxas II, in a speech to the Filipino community in Italy on Dec. 3.
Although he did not mention any of the opposing candidates by name, it was clear who his targets were.
“We must first analyze who we want to choose. One of them was accused of stealing from the coffers of the government for so many years,” Aquino said in Filipino, referring to Vice President Jejomar Binay, who faces several plunder cases filed by the government. “If this is true that he stole from the government, what would be left for those he had promised to help to improve their lives?”
Aquino then turned his guns on Senator Grace Poe, saying she has not specified how she would achieve any of her campaign promises.
“There is one who promises to do better, and do more than what we have done. But, listen to what she had said. Not for once did she ever say how she would be able to fulfill her promise. No context. No plan. Purely criticism. And half-baked promises,” Aquino said.
“She thinks once she is elected, she will just wake up and have a solution to all of these problems she is talking about.”
He then alluded to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s reputation as a killer, and said popularity on social media—a reference to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago—would not be enough to govern.
“There is another who said he will kill all his enemies,” Aquino said.
“And there is another who said she will just campaign in social media. Maybe she isn’t awake, and she cannot even build roads and feed the hungry. Since she will only use Facebook,” Aquino said.
Aquino also lambasted vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for not acknowledging the abuses of Martial Law under his father.
“I will also include another candidate running for a different position. His posture is that he will do the right thing, but he has never admitted the mistakes of the past.”
Only Roxas, he told the Filipinos gathered at the Ergife Palace Hotel in Rome, could provide the continuity of reforms introduced by his administration, Aquino said.
Aquino said he took pride in the average 6.2-percent annual growth posted during his term, and the improvement in the country’s competitiveness ranking.
The Binay camp on Friday described Aquino’s latest tirade as a signal to resume the demolition work against the vice president and criticized the President for praising Roxas as an honest presidential aspirant.
Binay’s spokesman for political affairs, Rico Quicho, said Aquino must have forgotten what he said earlier that the vice president should be presumed innocent, a right accorded to all under the Constitution.
Binay has denied all allegations against him, describing them as part of a demolition job by the administration against him.
“We are bracing ourselves but we will not be deterred from talking to the people about the vice president’s programs to address poverty, hunger and unemployment,” Quicho said.
“An honest appraisal of all the presidential candidates should not exclude the administration candidate,” Quicho said.
Quicho said Roxas occupied several key positions in the Cabinet in the last five years “yet through his incompetence and inaction only made situations worse.”
Roxas first served as Department of Transportation and Communications chief before being named Interior and Local Government secretary following Jessse Robredo’s death in August 2012.
“The MRT is in a worse state now. Traffic is now a daily hell for commuters and motorists. Licenses and car plates take forever. Billions in funds for local governments, water projects, developmental programs remain unreleased and trapped in a bureaucratic limbo of his own making,” Quicho said of Roxas.
Quicho said citizens live in fear and no longer feel safe in their homes.
“We have rampant criminality, unsolved killings of judges and journalists, and a drug menace that has infected almost all barangays in the country,” he said.
He said these are concrete issues that need concrete answers from the administration candidate. “He is, after all, running on a platform of continuity. For ordinary citizens, this means continuing the insensitive and inefficient governance that has failed to address poverty, hunger and unemployment.”
Reacting to Aquino’s attacks, Poe assured voters she could be trusted not to steal from them, or favor somebody who is unworthy and unable to help the country. She also said she would act quickly to solve the country’s problems.
Poe agreed with the president that nobody wakes up with a plan for a better future—especially not someone who does not have the popular mandate.
The senator said the country needs someone who can build and lead a government that is open, transparent and accountable in pursuit of genuine, inclusive growth and global competitiveness.
Poe made the remarks in Surigao, where she and running mate Senator Francis Escudero presented their platform of government to various groups, despite a recent ruling by the Commission on Elections’ Second Division cancelling Poe’s Certificate of Candidacy for president.
Poe said the Philippines, with its problems in agriculture, employment and corruption, cannot afford to have a leader that does not have enough will to deliver results.
In the past, Poe has often used the country’s poor mass transport system as proof of the incompetence and neglect of some government officials.
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