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Aquino on critics: If you can’t beat them, ignore them

President Benigno Aquino III. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—If you can’t beat them, ignore them.

President Benigno Aquino III made known on Tuesday his New Year’s resolutions before a captive audience of female high school students, and one of them had to do with a new tack he was planning use in dealing with critics.

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“Ignore the people who are hopeless,” he told Grade 11 students of Miriam College during a gathering at the Palace, lambasting his critics for allegedly being “unreasonable.”

The President was particularly peeved when people demanded the ouster of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla for failing to keep his promise to fully restore power in areas ravaged by supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in the Visayas by Christmas Eve.

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All but three of the 320 towns covered by the promise had been reenergized, though it did not necessarily mean that power was actually restored in all households because many of them had been flattened by “Yolanda.”

Mr. Aquino noted that his energy secretary had carried out “over 99 percent of the task” in less than 24 hours, yet “there were [still] people who were calling on him to resign.”

“So the next time that these people speak out again, why would I bother when they’re really being unreasonable, that while I’m dealing with them, I’m not able to take care of the problems of the country?” he said in Filipino.

The President did not name names, but among the most vocal critics of Petilla were left-leaning organizations occupying seats in the House of Representatives.

The Gabriela women’s group then said the President should not let go of Petilla so the Cabinet official could be made accountable for the looming power rate adjustment that would affect Manila Electric Co. service areas. The Supreme Court later issued a 60-day temporary restraining order on the rate increase.

“We have a cottage industry already of people who make a living criticizing me. And it detracts [me] from solving the problems of this country if I have to attend to them,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President heaped praises on members of his Cabinet, describing them as “very hardworking” and “very dedicated.”

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“You can’t ask anything more of them and perhaps I should learn to give them a little bit more breathing room,” he said of his other New Year’s resolution.

“Those who care for the country, those who are helping me, perhaps I should support them instead of pressuring them.”

“Our fellow workers in government who actually do everything out of love of country might be burned out,” he added.

“They can go into the private sector and really make tons and tons of money and have less controversies in their life and have a more peaceful life. But they chose to make a contribution at this point in time. So I really thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

Mr. Aquino recalled phoning Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and “so many others” on Jan. 1, the day he resumed work after a brief holiday break, to follow up on different matters.

He said he felt “guilty” afterward, knowing that that was the only time his Cabinet officials were probably enjoying their own break.

“I like to apologize to the Cabinet members,” he said.

“I wonder how many of them wished I wasn’t reading any newspaper or that I left my cellphone so that I wouldn’t follow up on anything,” he added.

RELATED STORIES:

Aquino chooses to ignore ‘hopeless’ critics

Aquino rejects Petilla resignation

Aquino communications exec resigns

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TAGS: Aquino cabinet, Benigno Aquino III, Calamity, criticism, critics, Department of Energy, disaster, Electricity production and distribution, Haiyan, Jericho Petilla, News, Philippine president, Politics, power restoration, supertyphoon, Typhoon, Yolanda
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