‘Hard-headed Aquino might lose endorsement power’

Ayee Macaraig
Senator Osmeña says President Aquino has to change if he wants his anointed candidate to win in 2016

FRIENDLY ADVICE. Senator Sergio Osmeña III offers President Aquino some helpful advice at a press conference. Photo by Ayee Macaraig/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – “I want him to do well. I want him to do better but he’s so hard-headed so what can we do?”

Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III warned that President Benigno Aquino III will lose his endorsement power in the 2016 polls if he continues being “hard-headed” about constructive criticism.

Osmeña made the comment after saying he told Aquino to fire Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jericho Petilla for supposedly failing to manage the country’s power problem but the President did not heed his advice.

The Cebuano senator also criticized Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya for the pending award of the contract for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport’s expansion, which he said had irregularities.

“[Aquino] will lose much of his endorsement power in 2016. He will lose much of that if people say, ‘Yeah we appreciate what you did.’ [He] honesty inspired many people but it all depends who he endorses. ‘Pag ang inendorse teka-teka like itong sa DOE, DOTC, [ang bansa] magiging teka-teka,” Osmeña said in a press briefing on Thursday, March 13.
 
(If he endorses indecisive people like those in the DOE and DOTC, then the country will be like that.)

Osmeña, who was one of Aquino’s campaign managers in the 2010 polls, said he does not regret supporting the President. “But when he’s wrong, I criticize also.”

The senator said Aquino’s tendency to “stay with the people he appointed” shows that he is a poor manager.

“He’s a good man but he’s an awful manager …. If you’re willing to accept you made a mistake, it’s easier to correct it. First you accept you made a mistake, then say ‘Yes we’ll make corrections,’” Osmeña said.

Malacañang for its part brushed off the comments. 

“We respect the views of Senator Osmeña,” said Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma also on Thursday. “The President is entitled to decide on the members of his Cabinet.”

Staying with PDP-Laban

The senator known for being a sharp political strategist also weighed in on political developments ahead of the 2016 polls.

Osmeña said he will retain his membership with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) even after Vice President Jejomar Binay left the group to form his own political party.

He said he joined PDP-Laban after returning from exile from the US after martial law. Osmeña said he then stuck it out with the party even if he was invited to other major political groups like Lakas-NUCD because “maraming trapo sa kabila.” (There were a lot of traditional politicians there.)

Osmeña said he has no plans of following Binay.

“I tend to be a very independent person …. I can serve them better by being independent. Ang iba gusto nila huwag maingay pero sa akin, ‘pag mali, mali.’”  (Some people want me to keep quiet but for me, if it’s wrong, it’s wrong.)

The senator joked that the party will become even smaller now. Before, PDP-Laban members joked that they can fit in a Volkswagen.

Asked if the party was now down to a tricycle, Osmeña said. “’Di naman tricycle. (Not a tricycle.) Toyota Prius, 4-seater, 5-seater.” 

‘SWS, Pulse endorse presidents’

Looking at the political landscape now, Osmeña reiterated his observation that there are no real political parties in the Philippines, “only cliques.”

“Ask parties what they stand for, what’s the difference between principles? You won’t see difference. It’s so interchangeable,” he said.

He said it is not parties that will determine the presidential candidates.

“Parties don’t nominate a president. It’s the Social Weather Stations, Pulse Asia that nominate a president. That’s been going on since after martial law,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña said he saw the first survey on the 2016 polls last week showing Binay with 32%, Senator Francis Escudero at 10%, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II at 8%, Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson at 8% and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr at 5%. “It was a radio survey; it’s not accurate.”

“After the 2010 elections, PNoy had just been proclaimed. One month later, somebody was asking me, ‘Who’s gonna be our president in 2016?’ Politics is the favorite sport of Filipinos. Conversations come around to who will run for president, who will be the strongest candidate. That’s good. There’s interest but there’s no real involvement.” – Rappler.com

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