It was his fifth State of the Nation Address but it was the only time that President Benigno Aquino 3rd became teary-eyed while reporting to his “bosses.”
Several times during his speech that lasted one-and-a half hours, the President’s voice broke. He fought back his tears when he declared that he does not regret running for President because doing so amid a flurry of criticisms would be akin to turning his back on his parents who fought the dictatorial rule under former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Aquino had been at the receiving end of stinging criticisms particularly after the Supreme Court declared the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. The High Court’s ruling prompted several groups to file impeachment complaints against the President.
The President’s sister Kris broke into tears while listening to her brother.
“We know everything that he has been through leading up to this speech. We have been praying a lot, having novena . . . and he told me that he will fulfill this responsibility [of being President]because this is the fruit of our parents’ sacrifices. I just hope that the people felt his sincerity,” she told reporters.
The President tried to hold back his tears at least thrice during his speech, which was accentuated by the lines: The Filipino is worth dying for, the Filipino is worth living for and the Filipino is worth fighting for.
“We were raised to put other people’s welfare first. I’m very proud of him,” Kris said.
Representatives Romero Quimbo, Elpidio Barzaga and Carol Jayne Lopez said the President’s emotional speech showed that he is not insensitive to the needs and sentiments of his countrymen.
“We saw the side of the President that we don’t get to see everyday, that he listens to criticisms . . . that he is hurting over these criticisms thrown at him even if he has not taken part [in]corruption. In fact, the prosecution of those who got involved in corruption happened during his term,” Quimbo, a party-mate of the President, said. He was referring to the prosecution of three senators and at least 30 others for plunder and graft charges in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel scam.
“It was a very emotional but factual speech. The President uttered words coming from his heart. The President assured the nation that he would not taint the name of his parents nor blacken their memories, therefore sending the strongest message that he will do his best for the welfare of the country,” Barzaga said.
Lopez, the Deputy Minority leader, agreed that Aquino may have been hurt but he cannot afford to break down and cry with just two years left in office.
“When he got emotional, we empathized with him. But a President should have a strong heart in attacks and criticisms. He should get used to the heat. He can’t complain. He has two years left to fulfill his promises to our people,” Lopez said.