MANILA, Philippines– The manner by how the administration handled the dispute over Sabah will most likely affect President Benigno Aquino III’s endorsement power for Team PNoy, an opposition senatorial candidate said Thursday.
Zambales Representative Milagros Mitos Magsaysay criticized the Aquino administration for its alleged failure to protect Filipinos in Sabah from abuses by Malaysian security forces.
Magsaysay also blasted Aquino for displaying “pride and arrogance” when he sent an emissary to hold talks with the Kiram family in behalf of the government on the deadly Sabah standoff.
Answering to reports that the President’s endorsement power will be used by the party for their campaign, Magsaysay said: “kung sa tingin nila si PNoy (President Aquino) magpapataas ng survey nila, e di gamitin nila si PNoy. Bahala na naman ang tao na humusga kung whether they think may endorsement value si PNoy.”
As for UNA, Magsaysay said the endorsement powers of their leaders are formidable, but they will rely on their own track records and performances to win the hearts of voters.
UNA is led by its “Three Kings” Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
“Yung kabilang partido aasahana lang nila pundasyon nila para humatak ng boto nila. Mahirap yun kasi inconsistent sila in a lot of issues in the past and in the present. I don’t think they’ll be able to make it with that,” she said, adding that people give them warm welcome in their campaign sorties.
“Mas magadang indication kung ano nakikita sa ground kesa sa mga survey results na hgindi naman namin alam kung sino ang nag babayad,” Magsaysay added.
Meanwhile, UNA bet Senator Gringo Honasan did not agree with Magsaysay’s view.
“I don’t want these . . . issues reflective of the highest national interest to be reduced into an issue related to the upcoming May 2013 elections,” Honasan said.
“But I guess Congressman Mitos Magsaysay has some basis for making those statements; I wouldn’t second guess her,” he said.
He also said he doesn’t want to be stuck in the semantics of what Filipino evacuees from Sabah should be called.
“Kahit ano itawag natin sa kanila, ang tawag ko sa kanila Pilipino,” Honasan said when asked to react on a report that Filipinos from Sabah should be called balikbayans.
Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman has appealed to the media to stop calling returning Filipinos from Sabah “refugees,” but “returning citizens.”
“By the way China is watching. The global community is watching how we will handle our situation. So we have to be very careful about our statements and actions. It might reflect weakness or strength,” Honasan.
“I don’t want our government, our people, us Filipinos, to be telegraphing our actions, and worse telegraphing our weakness,” Honasan said.