CEBU CITY: President Benigno Aquino III has raised alarm here that anybody, including him, could die anytime under a Rodrigo Duterte presidency.
Aquino made the warning while campaigning for administration standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and his running mate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo in Cebu province, home to at least 2.7 million voters.
The President’s sound off came on Roxas and Robredo’s third and last Cebu stop, with 11 days to go before the May 9 synchronized local and national elections.
“The one leading the surveys apparently wants to bring back the ways of the dictatorship,” Aquino said in Filipino. “This candidate says his word is the only right, and that those who won’t follow his words should beware. A lot of people are telling me, his rise is instilling fear. Please do something.”
He was referring to messages from the popular presidential bet Duterte, mayor of Davo City, on eradicating crime in six months and those resisting arrest would be killed – a scene from the dictatorial regime of the strongman Ferdinand Marcos between 1972 and 1986.
“If I see abuses being committed, I will stand up against it,” Aquino said. “But the question is, I am not sure if I will be around anymore? Would they allow me to? Can I take on the responsibility? Because I would think that those people would think that since I will stand up against them, I could be the one who will be eliminated.”
Roxas is facing a tough opposition in the Cebuano-speaking Duterte here, considering that the flamboyant and trash-talking mayor was born in Danao City, Cebu.
But Roxas also hails from the central Philippine province of Capiz.
“Why would we allow such dangerous rule again?” Aquino told the voters. “Let’s think long and hard. The people here should also talk to other people and ask why their bets are qualified. Because as I see it, the only people qualified for the job [of leading the country is Mar Roxas, together with Leni Robredo.”
The President then assured the Cebuanos that arbitrary detention and killing fields rule espoused by Duterte won’t prevail under the Philippine democracy that the Filipino people, including his late parents Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. and President Corazon Aquino, worked and fought so hard for.
“If you leave the people enraged, you will be at the receiving end of the People Power,” he stressed. “By the time I step down, they could proceed with their evil plans. But the question is, can they beat us? I believe no. We had each other’s backs and I have proven that the people is the most dependable of them all.” LLANESCA T. PANTI