MANILA, Philippines – If you disagree with how President Rodrigo Duterte is running the country, send a clear message to Malacañang by voting for opposition candidates in May 2019, former president Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday, August 21.
Aquino made the pitch in his speech during the commemoration of the 35th death anniversary of his father, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr, at the Sto Domingo Church in Quezon City.
“Sa susunod na taon, midterm elections na naman. Dapat klarong mensahe ang ipaparating natin hindi lang sa halalan para sa pagka-senador kung hindi para sa lahat ng mga puwesto (It would be the midterm elections again next year. We should send a clear message not only in the senatorial elections but across all positions),” Aquino said in his speech.
“Kung sang-ayon po tayo sa takbo ng bansa ngayon, iboto ang kakampi ng administrasyon. Pero kung hindi ka sang-ayon, 'wag mo lang iboto ang ating kandidato, ikampanya 'nyo pa sila. Palakasin 'nyo pa ang magdadala ng tinatawag na checks and balances sa gobyerno,” he added.
(If you agree with the country's present direction, vote for the allies of the administration. But if not, don't just vote for our candidates but campaign for them as well. This will strengthen what we call the checks and balances in government.)
The former president recalled that in 2013, the administration slate of Team PNoy bagged 9 out of 12 winning slots the Senate, despite supposed predictions that the other slate would win, particularly those endorsed by then Vice President Jejomar Binay, then Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and former president Joseph Estrada.
Aquino said he originally wanted to completely retire from politics after his presidency, as he had been in the public eye since he was 12 because of his father. But now that he was just two years away from becoming a senior citizen, because of the current situation in the country, he would have to get involved in politics again to actively campaign for opposition candidates.
In an interview in April, Aquino had said that he was not considering running in the 2019 elections.
Aquino said that during the 2016 campaign, he had warned of the possible dangers of electing "another candidate" – obviously referring to Duterte – but to no avail. But he said it was not too late for change through the upcoming elections.
With his successor in the country's helm for over two years, Aquino said in Filipino that it was time for the people "to say if we're going in the right direction" through their vote in 2019.
“Tawag ko po sa inyo ay boss, kayo ang boss ko. Kayo dapat ang masunod. Klaro po nasa inyong mga kamay ang ating kapalaran. Nasa inyo kung gagamitin 'nyo ang kapangyarihan na 'yun.... Paniniwala ko po sa gabay ng Poong Maykapal at sa tiwala at malasakit sa kapwa, sa tamang oras muling maninindigan sa tama at katotohanan ang sambayanang Pilipino,” Aquino said.
(I call you my boss. You are the ones who should be followed. It is clear that our fate is now in your hands. It is up to you if you will use that power.... I believe that with the guidance of the Lord and trust in and compassion for our countrymen, the Filipino people will again stand up for what is right and true.)
The opposition, led by the Liberal Party, has yet to finalize its senatorial lineup and its bets for the local elections next year.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senator and LP President Francis Pangilinan, and reelectionist senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV had said the group would be fielding a coalition slate. It remains to be seen if they would be able to fill the 12 slots for the so-called Magic 12, as most politicians are flocking to the administration-allied parties, especially Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the regional party of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com