MANILA, Philippines – A combative President Benigno Aquino III wasted no time dispeling rumors on his health, a little over two days after rumors spread about him collapsing.
On Monday, March 23, at a speech in Quezon for the briefing on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) toll road 4 project, Aquino made it clear that no such thing took place.
“I’m sure you have heard of the rumor that spread Friday midnight, entering Saturday. It said I collapsed in Malacañang, that I have a serious illness, while others said I was in the ICU (intensive care unit). When they saw me Saturday night with no health problems, a new rumor came out: that it was us spreading the rumors to get the public’s sympathy,” Aquino said.
He then reminded the public to stay vigilant of gossip.
“To those who believe this, there’s a reminder from the elderly: We gain nothing from gossip. Indeed our determined critics will find fault in everything we do,” he said in Filipino.
He added, “Will we trust antagonists to the straight and narrow path, now that their desire to plant doubt and confusion in the mind of the public is extreme and irreverent?”
The President said his critics creating rumors without basis are doing so to advance their own agenda, and to regain power to again benefit from the old system.
“If you believe in the gossip they spread, then it will appear as if we have not made any progress and it will disregard what we’ve achieved so far,” he said.
Rumors about the President collapsing began with queries from the media late Friday night. The past months have been tough for Aquino, who had been hit with criticisms left and right over the botched Mamasapano operation that led to the death of 67 people, including 44 elite cops.
Aquino also cited the upcoming elections as the reason behind the intensified rumors. The President is scheduled to finish his term in 2016.
“Next year we will have elections again which made me think more about the rumors that were spread. Our opponents are intense. Why would they go this far? I’ve also asked myself: They already know I won’t run next year, then why do they keep criticizing me?” he said.
“The answer is simple: if I’ve done well, which our critics recognize, it is natural that if I endorse someone, there will be value. So their job now is to discredit all we’ve done, so that way, if they make promises about what they will do, it will be much easier to believe.”
Aquino vowed, however, to continue with his administration’s reforms despite critics taking every opportunity to put themselves above what is good for the country.
“I assure my bosses: no matter how loud the noise made by those breeding negativity, I will stay true to the mandate you trusted me with. In the remaining 465 days of my term, we will continue to present more opportunities for the country. We will make our reforms permanent,” he said.
He then reminded the public to vote smart, and to choose someone who would continue his reforms.
“You, our bosses, you who give life to our democracy. It is you who will make sure that whoever will replace me will further strengthen the institution to ensure it will no longer be used for corruption,” he said.
Aquino is expected to endorse Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who ranks 7th place in presidential preferences for 2016, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey. Vice President Jejomar Binay, a member of the opposition, remains the frontrunner with 29% of respondents saying they will vote for him.
Speaking before around 2,000 lawyers in Cebu on March 21, Binay presented his plans for his “first 100 days” in office if elected Philippine president in 2016. – Rappler.com
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