GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III continues to join Team PNoy’s sorties in Mindanao. In General Santos City, Aquino speaks about the Sabah standoff.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
The President is not attending one, but two rallies in Mindanao while violence in Sabah continues.
A day after protests in Manila over President Aquino’s alleged mishandling of Sabah, he is in Mindanao to join his coalition Team PNoy on the campaign trail.
In General Santos City, a huge crowd welcomes Aquino.
He gets emotional as he talks about Sabah… But also asks the region to support his slate.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Tama ho ba yung sinususog ng ilan na dapat suportahan natin yung mga nandoon na may dalang mga armas na nagkaroon na ng patayan? Dapat ho maliwanag na maliwanag dito. Itong pangyayaring ito ay mali. Kung mali, bakit natin susuportahan? Ako po baka mag-retire na sa 2016, sinong magpapatuloy? Ipapakita ko po sa inyo, na ngayon pa lang magpapatuloy na. Ito po ang ating Team PNoy na mga kandidato.
(Is it right to listen to those pushing to support those in Sabah who brought arms… when a shootout has already happened? This should be clear. What happened in Sabah is wrong. If it’s wrong, why should we support it? I might be retiring in 2016, who will continue what I do? These people who, as early as now, are already doing their part. This is our Team PNoy).
Bets find nothing wrong with Aquino joining them.
They argue his presence here does not mean he is not on top of the situation, especially with the Dept of Foreign Affairs currently in negotiations with Malaysia.
Mindanao bet Koko Pimentel says the President can monitor the situation from here.
KOKO PIMENTEL, TEAM PNOY SENATORIAL BET: The president’s schedule can accommodate going to sorties, so why not? Just because there is Sabah…magkukulong na lang siya sa Malacañang Palace (He’ll lock himself up in Malacañang Palace?)
Candidates argue Aquino’s decision to come to Mindanao is not just about the elections.
Campaign manager Franklin Drilon says he is talking to leaders here about Sabah.
Former senator Jamby Madrigal says Aquino coming here is a good thing, especially because those most affected by the conflict are Mindanaons.
JAMBY MADRIGAL, TEAM PNOY SENATORIAL BET: It’s good that he’s reaching people in Mindanao because Mindanao people are also affected by this Sabah stand. I think you shouldn’t look at this as campaigning. You should look at this as the president trying to get the opinions, the consensus, of all the people affected by the Sabah stand.
In 2010, Aquino lost in Mindanao to former president Joseph Estrada who now heads the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.
Insensitive? Or understandable? Aquino’s decision to go on sorties is viewed as a non-issue by his bets, who benefit from his presence here. Elections is still two months away and voters may forget about Sabah by then. But they will likely remember the time he spent here.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, General Santos. – Rappler.com