Aquino on Duterte Sona: I’d prefer to watch it on TV
Former President Benigno Aquino III has chosen not to attend the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of his successor on Monday, saying he would prefer to watch on television President Rodrigo Duterte’s second speech before a joint session of Congress.
“That would be the easiest way to understand everything that’s said there without distraction. When you’re there, the tendency is there would be someone who would be whispering to you [while the speech is in progress],” Aquino said in a recent interview with the Inquirer.
Aquino was also a no-show at Mr. Duterte’s first Sona last year.
By tradition, former Presidents are invited to the Sona of the incumbent. But with the current political landscape, Aquino would be the odd man out at the Batasan Pambansa.
His Liberal Party (LP) has been decimated in Congress after Mr. Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan took over as the ruling administration party.
Many Liberals who professed loyalty to Aquino when he was President jumped ship almost immediately after Mr. Duterte took his oath of office.
The relentless campaign against LP stalwart Sen. Leila de Lima also had an impact on the once dominant party.
The Duterte administration charged De Lima with involvement in drug trafficking in the national penitentiary for which she is now detained.
Only a handful of LP members have had the courage to call out the Duterte administration as part of their traditional check-and-balance role.
“It’s understood that in Congress, a lot of times they cannot afford not to be with the administration party,” Aquino said.
But Aquino noted that Liberals are now fighting back, especially against a disinformation campaign of the party’s supposed involvement with the Maute group.
Aquino also said the Liberal Party would soon ratify the appointment of its new officers, led by president Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. Vice President Leni Robredo is the party chair, being the member who has the most senior government post.
Aquino said that even if the party lost members in Congress, it maintained a strong bond with members in the grassroots level.
“We actually have a new set of the next generation already on board being helped by the older generation, who is being helped by the middle generation that I belong to,” Aquino said.
But LP wants to name Aquino its “chair emeritus” being a former President.
The 57-year-old Aquino, however, hopes his party mates would not.
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