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Aquino: What’s all the fuss?

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 03:40 AM June 06, 2015
President Aquino speaks to the media in a wide-ranging press conference late Thursday night in Tokyo. Monika Tarra Quismundo

President Aquino speaks to the media in a wide-ranging press conference late Thursday night in Tokyo. Tarra Quismundo

TOKYO—Why the overreaction?

President Benigno Aquino III posed this question to bickering politicians back home, as he called for an elevated level of debate on the run-up to the 2016 national elections.

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“Why are you so overreacting? Why (do) all of you need to overreact?,” the President commented in a press conference here late Thursday night, when asked about the continuing word war between Sen. Grace Poe, who is seen as a possible presidential contender in 2016, and the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who had made known his plans to seek higher office next year.

Binay’s daughter, Makati Rep. Abigail Binay, on Thursday called for a ceasefire on the “heated and emotional” exchange started by her father’s political lieutenants who had questioned the senator’s alleged lack of residency, and her doubtful citizenship owing to her being a foundling who did not know her biological parents.

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It’s like “black propaganda” this early, President Aquino said. “Can we not help them change the system to something better and bring the debate to a more intelligent and studied level?” he added.

But Mr. Aquino also clarified that he made the appeal “as a citizen,” as he would rather steer clear of the issue as President. He had not been authorized to serve as spokesperson for either camp, he joked.

Anointed one

During his state visit here, the President was asked several times about his successor, and who he thinks could best sustain the gains of his administration.

In an engagement with the Japan National Press Club on Friday morning, Mr. Aquino said he would name his anointed one after his last State of the Nation Address (Sona) in July.

“When will I endorse? I promised our people I was hoping (it would be) the end of June, but now it seems that I have to, by law, deliver a State of the Nation Address, which is (on) the last Monday of July. It will be shortly after that that I will endorse the person (whom) I believe can carry out the continuity,” the President said.

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Mr. Aquino also made assurances that the friendship between the Philippines and Japan would remain even after his term.

Asked about the low popularity of the ruling Liberal Party’s prospective presidential candidate, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the President avoided a direct answer and said: “I don’t think our people will elect a foolhardy replacement that will suddenly throw away all these very good economic partnerships that we have with Japan.”

Right to apologize

Meanwhile, in Sorsogon province, Roxas on Friday supported the President’s call for senior government officials to refrain from “overreacting” to issues triggered by rivalry in the 2016 elections.

“It’s just right to stop the bickering. It’s just right to apologize. It’s just right to put the debate on a higher level,” Roxas told reporters after leading the turnover of a public water facility in Prieto Diaz town.

“Do you think the residents here care what’s happening in Manila?” he asked.

Roxas, who has been visiting the provinces to oversee the distribution of police patrol vehicles and other local government projects, said people in other parts of the country were more interested in issues that directly affect their lives.

“What they care about is ensuring clean and safe water for their (community). They care about PhilHealth so they will receive medical assistance,” he said, referring to the government’s public health insurance system.

He said the public would be more interested in efforts to bring development to their towns, like infrastructure projects, the construction of more schools and adequate power sources.

“Those are the concerns of the people. That’s what I call meaningful public service. The people don’t need this useless bickering,” Roxas said. With a report by Marlon Ramos

Originally posted: 11:09 AM | Friday, June 5th, 2015

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TAGS: 2016 elections, 2016 national elections, Abigail Binay, Aquino, Benigno Aquino III, Grace Poe, Japan National Press Club, Jejomar Binay, Politics, President Aquino, presidential elections, State of the Nation Address
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