President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday said he expects the country’s leading columnists and commentators to enlighten the public as the country holds national elections next year.
Attending the Bulong Pulungan Christmas party in a hotel in Pasay City (Metro Manila), the President praised media practitioners for their contribution to democracy and development.
“All of you are veterans and luminaries in the world of media. Throughout every election, you have probably seen every possible character: the false prophets, the wannabe messiahs, the corrupt patrons and the well-intentioned but ultimately ill-equipped candidates,” he said.
“In May, however, for the first time in memory, there is a valid call to continue the upward trajectory of our country. We finally have someone selling a vision, with a track record that proves that this vision is not only achievable but very much probable through the continuity of reform,” Aquino added.
“We can now legitimately put forward to our people: Their dreams do not have to expire after only six years.”
In the 2016 elections, the President said, his administration’s daang matuwid (straight path) policy will be subjected to a referendum.
“It is a campaign that I will personally lead, and I am mindful that there are those who will be relentless in making sure that they retake the reins of powers, in effect setting us back to the old days where personal gain rather than public interest held sway over governance,” he added.
These are the same individuals, according to the President, who cannot afford another defeat.
He noted that some candidates will offer the moon and the stars, without actually putting forward any plan for the nation’s future.
“In short, there are those who are certain about their ambition, but are much less certain about its implications on the rest of the country,” Aquino said.
The President pointed out that he trusts that the country’s columnists would continue to do their part in speaking the truth and delivering a message of hope, not only in the remaining six months of his administration but even after he leaves office.
This, he said, is the same message that enabled the country to stand up against a dictator in 1986; dismantled the system of lying, cheating and stealing in government in 2010; and laid the foundations for a Philippines that is more inclusive.
“It has indeed been an honor for me to participate in Bulong Pulungan. It is an event that I will surely miss,” the President added.
He claimed that his administration has surpassed the people’s expectations in 2010, when
he stepped into office, as he boasted of the government’s positive showing in the surveys.
“Even at this point in time, one can really look back and say I think we’ve surpassed the expectations of those who believed in us from the start and who’ve stood by us all this time,” Aquino said.
He cited his government’s recent gains in the surveys, also noting that he has more supporters now than before.
“You look at the survey results, I have more supporters now than when we actually won in 2010 and I’d like to hope that there would be more but not necessarily for me but rather for the principles that we have stood for, that is, really empower the people and that is the main route toward our advancement as a people,” the President said.
Aquino was referring to the “good” +37 net satisfaction rating they got in September, up from +31 in March, based on a survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
It was notably the administration’s highest satisfaction rating in 18 months.
Aquino said he worked on the belief that ”the people were behind me.”
“So I’d like to hope also that in return I have helped in empowering our people so that they are able to take more active control of their future, that they really have a stake in where this country is going, that they feel connected to the fortunes of this country,” he added.
In fact, he also claimed, about 400,000 of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have returned and have found meaningful jobs.
“If you ask what’s the proof of ‘meaningful jobs,’ the unemployment rate has continued to drop. It’s 5.7 (percent). The other figure that I’m really so pleased about is that on out-of-school youth. In 2008, it was 2.7 million; it’s [now]down to 1.2 [million]despite the increase in population,” Aquino said.
When asked what changed in him since 2010, he replied, “I think I am a bit more optimistic now of what this country and our people can do and that we can do it really rather quicker than what was imagined.”
The President also revealed his simple wish for the Filipino nation this coming Christmas–to be reunited.
“[E]specially [at]this point in the year, you really want a united family. An opportunity to be with each other really firm[s]up the connectedness with each other,” he said.
“Hopefully we will be able to afford that atmosphere that really this is the time for reunions, this is the time to bond with each other and also commune [of course]with God, and we are re-energized for all of the challenges in the coming years,” the President added.
Aquino also wishes for “a peaceful, calm, optimistic Christmas facing the New Year” for Filipinos.
“Hopefully, I will not be attending to some emergency come this Christmas season. That we will all have a joyful, peaceful and family-centered Christmas,” he said.