PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday said his Christmas wish this year is for all Filipinos is to have “peaceful family time,” unlike last year when the holidays were bleak because of a number of tragedies.
“The wish really is that we have that peaceful moment where we are not confronted with very severe challenges like last year, and that we are focused on really just pausing and enjoying something that is so intrinsically part of the Filipino culture, which is having that family time,” the President said during the annual Bulong Pulungan Christmas Party and Forum at Hotel Sofitel in Pasay City (Metro Manila).
“So if we are able to assist in maximizing that opportunity, then I think that is the central wish,” he added.
The President said his wish also goes for the ten million Filipinos who are either living or working abroad, noting that having that quality time with their families here does not come in handy.
“We have 10 million Filipinos supposedly out of the country and you’d want some contact between the 10 million and their families here and quality time at that, [won’t you]? [Quality time that is]not centered on the material things, but rather really being able to relish each second that you have spent with each other,” he pointed out.
The annual event is organized by an all-women group of veteran journalists in the country. There, Aquino was asked blunt questions, including having an apparent obsessive compulsive disorder.
Jullie Yap Daza, former editor in chief of Manila Standard Today and now columnist of Manila Bulletin said she observed how the President paid attention to the “minutiae of specific details” during his three-hour meeting with National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) officials last Thursday.
“I was listening to you preside over that NDRRMC meeting yesterday for almost three hours and I’d like you to confirm or deny that from the way you were reacting to the presentation, you are somewhat obsessive compulsive?” Daza asked.
The President said he thought he was “ultimately responsible” for how the government works and that he just wanted to “impress upon everybody that it is not just doing something but rather doing the right thing.”
“And in certain instances, I really have to press and overcome the inertia of some of the members of the bureaucracy. I think that question will be better put to the secretaries present who claim that they are sometimes torture[d]and have to endure a thesis-like defense presentation whenever I have to ask the questions,” Aquino told Daza.
“But at the end of the day, I really want to be able to say to myself when I look myself at the mirror that we have done everything that was humanly possible to address whatever issue [confronts]us. And I impress upon that on all the members of this government, and not just in the executive, that we do bear a responsibility to everybody and we should not have a period where we are regretting that we could have done something and we didn’t choose to do so. So perhaps that is my way of making sure that everybody is doing the utmost in their respective roles,” the President said.
When pressed to grade his government’s preparation for the onslaught of Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit), Aquino replied: “If I say they are at 80 or 90, they might relax. So, can I just say that they are 50 pending resolution of this crisis?”
At the same gathering, the President was again asked about his relationship with the media to which he curtly responded: “Like any product, you get what you pay for.”
“There are certain publications that make it a point to, not just say it’s half-empty, but almost totally empty regardless of whatever the topic is. There are those that will tend to be objective, but there is of course the temptation to be negative,” Aquino pointed out.
He said somehow, it is the media’s “job” to “help us motivate our people.”
“Why can it not be your job when you are part of this society? Why bring everybody down when there are good stories [of course]that can bring them up and have a balance?” the President added.
“We have learned to deal with each other and hopefully…I really try to strive for a consensus and it’s still a work in progress be it the church, be it media, be it other sectors. The appeal has always been: Why don’t you look at what we are trying to do, and if we can improve, we are always ready to listen. And if we are wrong, please do point it out, we want to correct it. But please don’t start out dialoguing with us with a mind that is already closed. That is really such a waste of time and redounds to nobody’s benefit,” he said.