DAVAO CITY: Jong Monson, secretary general of the Pasaka Lumad Confederation of Southern Mindanao, on Thursday said President Benigno Aquino 3rd continues to ignore human rights violations and summary executions of innocent civilians, mostly indigenous people, accused as rebels by the military.
“Aquino is ignoring the killings of lumad [indigenous people]in Mindanao that already accumulated to 13 deaths since September 1. We call for the pullout of the military in our communities and the disarming of paramilitary groups that brought impunity to our communities,” Monson added.
The President arrived with Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd in Davao City and they spoke to about 2,000 mostly political allies and supporters in “a gathering of friends” at the SMX Convention Center.
Four people–an imam, a farmer, a government scholar and a tribeswoman–also spoke about how government-funded projects and livelihood programs brought changes to their life, and in the end they praised and thanked Aquino for his reforms and advocacy of so-called daang matuwid or straight path in governance.
Many of those who were invited to the event were provincial governors, mayors and vice mayors and other politicians, who came from all over the region.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who backed out from the presidential race just recently, was absent from the gathering–it was unknown whether he was invited.
Aquino and Roxas were received by the elderly Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario.
Governor Mujiv Hataman, of the Muslim autonomous region who is also a strong political ally of Aquino, led his governors–Nurbert Sahali of Tawi-Tawi; Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao; Mamintal Adiong of Lanao del Sur–to the gathering.
Governors Totoh Tan of Sulu and Jum Akbar of Basilan were not able to attend because of tight schedule, but both politicians have repeatedly and publicly announced their solid support for Roxas, the administration’s standard-bearer in the 2016 elections.
All of the Muslim governors are members of the ruling Liberal Party.
“This is a gathering of unity and we are all behind President Aquino and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas for the continuation of the daang matuwid and good governance,” Hataman said.
Other members of the Aquino’s Cabinet were also present during the gathering, but Teresita Deles, the chief peace adviser, stood out among the rest – she was spotted waving pro-Roxas slogans “Oras na, Roxas na” mostly throughout the program.
Former lawmaker Riza Hontiveros, who is aspiring to be a senator, virtually campaigned for herself–enumerating the accomplishments of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. where she sits as one of its board of directors.
Roxas spoke from a prepared speech, elaborating on his past programs and accomplishments and how he would continue Aquino’s reform if elected President.
Aquino, on the other hand, spoke little about his own achievements and more on the legacy that he would leave behind after he steps down.
He also cracked a few jokes, which the audience applauded several times.
Those who attended the event were given yellow bands with Roxas’ name printed on it, yellow T-shirts and tarpaulin signs with various slogans of the politician, a tuna sandwich and a small bottle of cola.
Aquino also visited Misamis Occidental and Davao del Norte where he inspected government and tourism projects in the provinces.