Aquino just can’t let Arroyo goBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr. |Inquirer Southern Luzon
CATANAUAN, Quezon—President Aquino once again resurrected the phantom of bad governance and widespread corruption in former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration while trumpeting his own’s achievements, at the high-noon campaign sortie of Team PNoy’s senatorial candidates here on Monday.
Speaking in Filipino, Aquino described the life of the Filipino in the nine years under the previous administration as one of “desperation and hopelessness.”
“Ang masakit pa nito, habang umaasa tayo sa mga proyekto sa kanila, ang isinasalubong sa atin ay kaliwa’t kanang anomalya. (What was worse was that while we pinned our hopes on them, we were greeted with anomalies one after the other),” he added.
The President also cited the lack of classrooms, the prevalent red tape, the absence of electricity in the countryside, the lack of roads and bridges, and the dearth of government assistance for the agricultural sector among the many shortcomings of the past administration.
Without naming names, Aquino took potshots at the political clan that has ruled Quezon province’s third district for the past two decades, apparently referring to the family of House minority leader Danilo Suarez, incumbent representative from the Bondoc Peninsula.
“Kailan ho ba magbabago dito? (When will this change?),” he asked the crowd at Catanauan, which is located 258 kilometers south of Manila.
With the Alcalas
The President arrived here in the company of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the latter’s son Rep. Irvin Alcala, who is running for governor against Gov. David Suarez (NUP), the son of the House minority leader.
Aquino’s party was welcomed by Vice Gov. Vicente Alcala, Proceso’s elder brother who is running for representative to replace his nephew Irvin; Sam Nantes, the LP candidate for vice governor and scion of the late Quezon Gov. Rafael Nantes; and environmentalist lawyer Sheila de Leon, who will contest the candidacy of former Rep. Aleta Suarez.
Also present were Team PNoy’s campaign manager Sen. Franklin Drilon and senatorial candidates Senators Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillanes III, Grace Poe, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Risa Hontiveros, former senator Jamby Madrigal and Rep. Edgardo Angara.
Sen. Koko Pimentel was represented by his mother Bing, while Bam Aquino was represented by his wife, Timi.
Aquino’s speech was interrupted by a short bout of hard coughing, after which he told the crowd: “Sana po ang nakaalala sa akin ay kakampi at hindi kalaban. (I hope the one thinking of me is a friend and not a foe.)”
The crowd, most of them in yellow shirts, burst into laughter, although an old man in the crowd was overheard saying: “Tumigil ka na kasi ng paninigarilyo (You should quit smoking).”
In his speech, Aquino cited the accomplishments of his nearly three-year-old administration, and promised to support the province’s coconut industry by fully exploring the business potential of “coco water,” now a popular health drink in the United States.
Before going to Catanauan, Aquino visited the Peter Paul Philippine Corp. (PPPC) in Candelaria town, one of the biggest manufacturers of desiccated coconut and coconut-based products, including coco water in tetra packs for export.
Local pols warned
The President then proceeded to Gumaca town, where he warned local politicians against threatening to disenfranchise beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.
“If there are politicians warning you of disenfranchisement from the Pantawid Pamilya Program if you (don’t) vote for them, I’d be the first to tell you [I will not allow it],” Aquino told the crowd at the Gumaca Elementary School that included former Sen. Wigberto Tañada and his, wife Zeny.
These politicians would face removal from public office, or risk being unseated during the elections, he added.—With a report from TJ Burgonio