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NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

IS THE PHILIPPINES AMONG THE WORST COUNTRIES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS?


DECEMBER 9 -Lumads from the Manobo tribe listen to the program during a protest near Malacańan on the annual Human Rights Day in 2014. Protesters called for a stop on extra-judicial killings, as well as calling for justice on human rights violations. Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and South Sudan. These were tagged as the top countries where perpetrators implicated in journalists' killings go unpunished, according to the 2015 Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Unlike the countries mentioned above, the Philippines doesn't have a war or a large-scale armed conflict. Yet the CPJ and other rights groups named it as among the worst offenders when it comes to impunity — the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. The Philippines was even tagged as the country with the highest impunity rates in the 2015 Global Impunity Index by the Impunity and Justice Research Center of the University of the Americas Puebla. Local human rights watchdog Karapatan cited impunity as a reason for giving the Aquino administration a failing grade in the aspect of addressing human rights. It said that this goes against what President Benigno Aquino III promised in his inaugural address, when he ordered then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to "begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all." Doing otherwise would be akin to giving consent to the crimes to occur "over and over again." Even before his inaugural speech, Aquino had been vocal that he would do everything to stop extrajudicial killings, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said on Monday (December 7) over CNN Philippines' Agenda. Unfortunately, Palabay said, Karapatan's records showed that there was a "failure" to achieve the commitment as not one of the perpetrators of human rights violations in the past administration were held accountable. Although Aquino managed to significantly lessen the number of extrajudicial killings since he took office in 2010, politically motivated killings were still frequently reported, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its 2014 World Report. Under Aquino's term, only two cases of extrajudicial killings resulted in convictions until 2013. "And even in those cases, the individuals believed most responsible for the killings have not faced justice," the report added. Palabay cited the trial of of retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan as an example of the administration's failure. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino administration culpable for failing to uphold Human Rights‏


DECEMBER 10 -People around the world mark December 10 as International Human Rights Day. This day not only commemorates the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it also provides an opportunity to look more closely at the performance of Nation States, as parties to various international human rights standards.
The Aquino administration’s human rights record has been dismal. With 304 victims of extrajudicial killings and 324 victims of frustrated killings from July 2010 to November 2015 (as per documentation records of human rights organization Karapatan), President Aquino has failed to uphold the civil and political human rights of the Philippine citizenry. The Philippines, truth be retold, also lags behind in performance when it comes to the respect of socio-economic rights. This nation’s high poverty incidence marks that more than half of the population is living below the poverty line, according to Ibon Data Bank. Backward agriculture and insufficient local industry spawn swelling numbers of unemployed, with resulting increases in the number of people who experience constant and recurring states of hunger. With a government serving the interests of the so-called “haves,” it is no surprise that any supposed trickle-down benefit from much-hyped economic growth has not alleviated the grinding poverty and condition of the ordinary folks. Inadequate access to basic needs and essential social services, forced displacement, widespread landlessness and unemployment continue to be the experience of the majority. With the majority of the population ever struggling for survival, dissent and political upheaval is not only expected, but even just and moral. In contrast, however, the very fiber of our democracy is threatened by violations of civil and political rights. Detention of political prisoners, abductions and enforced disappearances, summary executions, extra-judicial killings, hamletting and forced displacement and various forms of political persecution continue unabated. Unresolved cases of the killings of Church people under the Aquino Administration, such as Rabenio Sungit, Benjamin Bayles, Bro. Wilhelm Geertman, Datu Jimmy Liguyan and Fr. Fausto Tentorio, PIME, are the epitome of negligence by the State and human rights violations done with impunity. Even cases with identified suspects like that of Datu Jimmy Liguyon, for whom a warrant of arrest has been issued against his alleged killer Alde Salusad have not moved forward because suspects are believed to be under the protection of the military. This has become the character of the State under the Aquino administration: even missionaries and Church leaders who dare to stand for what is right and provide help to those in need are made martyrs of State terror. READ MORE...

ALSO Noy: I surpassed my 16 million supporters’ expectations, gained more since 2010....


DECEMBER 12 -President Aquino
President Aquino believes he has “surpassed” the expectations of the 16 million Filipinos who voted for him and has even gained more supporters now than when he was a presidential candidate in May 2010.
“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 during a question-and-answer forum at the Sofitel Hotel yesterday. His remarks were made during the annual Christmas party of the predominantly female Bulong Pulungan weekly journalists’ forum. “I think even the numbers – you look at the survey results – I have more supporters now than when we actually won in 2010,” Aquino said. He called on media executives to help his administration continue the reforms. Even if he claimed to be “uncomfortable” discussing his achievements, he took credit for what he described as the shrinking number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Statistics reveal that about 400,000 have returned to be employed in local-based jobs out of 10 million OFWs. READ MORE...

ALSO: P-Noy continues denigration of Mar’s rivals


DECEMBER 12 -Administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II and PNoy
President Aquino yesterday continued his attack against the rivals of administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II in the 2016 elections.
“Throughout every election, you have probably seen every possible character: the false prophets, the wannabe messiahs, the corrupt patrons and the well-intentioned but ill-equipped candidates,” Aquino told journalists at the Bulong Pulungan during their annual Christmas party at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City. As in Rome, Aquino did not identify who he was alluding to in his statement. Obviously referring to Roxas, the President said, “We finally have someone selling a vision – with a track record that proves that this vision is not only achievable but probable through the continuity of reform. “For the first time in memory, there is a valid call to continue the upward trajectory of our country,” Aquino added. He urged the journalists to help him campaign for Roxas. “I trust that, as exemplars of your profession, you will continue to do your part to speak the truth and deliver our message of hope – not only in the next six months, but even long after I leave office,” Aquino said. The President believes that Roxas is still the man to beat in 2016. “People start talking about my endorsement, I think that is proof that there is value to that endorsement, right? If it has no value, why bring attention to it?” Aquino said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy takes a swipe anew at media critics
[The Chief Executive started the finger-pointing as he put the underspending blame on former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the courts. He said his administration was left with a soft foundation in starting to run the government, on top of unfinished infrastructure projects. Aquino said he had to put necessary corrective measures to reform Arroyo’s form of governance, which he claimed to be ridden with corruption that inspired other officials as well to be corrupt]


DECEMBER 12 -PNoy
President Aquino yesterday blasted his media critics again, insisting that some of them won’t stop thinking of ways on how to bring him down than accept the good things he has done during his almost six years in Malacańang.
“We all see my critics... It’s as if every morning the first thing in mind is how to bash... I’m not saying I should be praised left and right but I think I’ve done something good in these five years, but some people have closed their eyes (to these achievements) and there is no sense of responsibility,” he said. When asked on what he wishes to forget about the job after his term as President, Aquino said it would be all the criticisms he received from the media. “Perhaps I would be filled with negativity if I think about them, so I’d like to forget them,” think about them, so I’d like to forget them,” he added. Aquino, however, want Filipinos to remember his presidency as a story of overcoming adversities, when he steps down from power next year. The Chief Executive recalled that his administration has so far faced challenges that, in most instances, occurred during the Christmas season, among them Typhoons Pablo and Sendong, supertyphoon Yolanda, the Zamboanga siege and the Bohol earthquake. “Now, if we look at all of these things that we’ve had to undertake… I’m hoping that people will say: Look at the challenges that we had to undergo as a people and how we overcame them,” he noted. “And if there’s a future challenge, then perhaps they will be able to say: We will also surmount this in the same way that we managed to surmount that which we thought was insurmountable.” Aquino said he draws inspiration from his parents’ accomplishments. But the President also used a familiar stance in going after his political critics: The blame game.READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Is the Philippines among the worst countries for human rights?


Lumads from the Manobo tribe listen to the program during a protest near Malacańan on the annual Human Rights Day in 2014. Protesters called for a stop on extra-judicial killings, as well as calling for justice on human rights violations.

MANILA, DECEMBER 14, 2015 (CNN PHILIPPINES) By Mikas Matsuzawa, December 9, 2015 - Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and South Sudan. These were tagged as the top countries where perpetrators implicated in journalists' killings go unpunished, according to the 2015 Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Unlike the countries mentioned above, the Philippines doesn't have a war or a large-scale armed conflict. Yet the CPJ and other rights groups named it as among the worst offenders when it comes to impunity — the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice.

The Philippines was even tagged as the country with the highest impunity rates in the 2015 Global Impunity Index by the Impunity and Justice Research Center of the University of the Americas Puebla.

Local human rights watchdog Karapatan cited impunity as a reason for giving the Aquino administration a failing grade in the aspect of addressing human rights.

It said that this goes against what President Benigno Aquino III promised in his inaugural address, when he ordered then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to "begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all." Doing otherwise would be akin to giving consent to the crimes to occur "over and over again."

Even before his inaugural speech, Aquino had been vocal that he would do everything to stop extrajudicial killings, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said on Monday (December 7) over CNN Philippines' Agenda.

Unfortunately, Palabay said, Karapatan's records showed that there was a "failure" to achieve the commitment as not one of the perpetrators of human rights violations in the past administration were held accountable.

Although Aquino managed to significantly lessen the number of extrajudicial killings since he took office in 2010, politically motivated killings were still frequently reported, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its 2014 World Report.

Under Aquino's term, only two cases of extrajudicial killings resulted in convictions until 2013. "And even in those cases, the individuals believed most responsible for the killings have not faced justice," the report added.

Palabay cited the trial of of retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan as an example of the administration's failure.

READ MORE...

Palparan was implicated in the 2006 kidnapping and illegal detention of two farmers in Bulacan as well as the kidnapping of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeńo and Sherlyn Cadapan for being suspected members of the communist New People's Army (NPA).

The two students remain missing.

"The trial of General Palparan is still ongoing and he enjoys some first or second class or third class amenities in Fort Bonifacio, which is not really a detention center if you ask us as human rights monitors," Palabay said.

'Fair' Palabay also questioned Administrative Order No. 35, s. 2012 of the Aquino administration, tagging it as a form of "whitewashing." The order creates an interagency task force on extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances, among others.

The task force is headed by the secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ), and has as members the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the director general of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"At the onset we expressed skepticism over the said task force because those institutions where perpetrators are allegedly from are inside that task force. So what partiality can we achieve from that structure alone?" Palabay questioned.


Loretta "Etta" Rosales -
PHOTO Published on: Tuesday - March 12th, 2013

Former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta "Etta" Rosales also agreed.

"May problems tayo kung yung alleged perpetrators ay kabahagi nung nag-iimbestiga dahil yung impartiality nga niya could be affected," she said.

[Translation: "We will have problems if the alleged perpetrators are part of the investigation, because impartiality will be affected."]

But she said the president was not the only one to blame.

Related: Amnesty Int'l challenges presidential aspirants on human rights issues

Rosales said that the administration had been fair in delivering its human rights commitments. But she also described the human rights record of the Aquino administration as "volatile and fragile."

"You know the military and then the police, they have their own share of violations," she said.

"At the same time you can't put all the blame on them, because you have that flawed criminal justice system. You got these courts that take ages."

"The Ampatuan massacre for instance. These principals — and I'm talking about the Ampatuan clan — are in jail. So for all intents and purposes they are in jail. But the government must be able to address this. They are in jail but what's more important is the conviction, if they are really guilty," Rosales said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Related: Maguindanao massacre: 2,192 days, 0 convictions

Rosales said that there were also gains by the administration in the aspect of laws, one of which was the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 (Republic Act 10368), which was for the benefit of the victims of the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Red-tagging

One of the human rights issues under the current administration is the issue of lumad killings. Rosales stated that the marginalization of lumads was brought about by "historical government neglect."

Related: Bangsamoro: Many cultures united under Islam

"So the NPA started setting up schools. In fact it was even sponsored by rural missionaries.

What's negative is that it's used to recruit NPA cadres," she said in a mix of Filipino and English.

In 2007, Philip Alston, a UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, found that the military was behind the extrajudicial killings of leftist activists.

Executions of activists were part of counterinsurgency operations against the communist rebels, he added.

On the other side, Alston also noted killings committed by the communist rebels under its system of "people's courts" and "revolutionary justice."

He tagged death sentences imposed by the "people's courts" as vigilantism or murder.

Palabay, however, countered Rosales' point, saying that tagging schools as "NPA," for New People's Army, is dangerous as it is the rationale used by the AFP to enter a community and "commit worse forms of violence."

Related: Mindanao tribes want troops, rebels out of their communities

According to the AFP, the Alternative Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) was being used by the NPA to radicalize students.

Related: We were not misled into supporting lumads, actress tells general

Last September, the executive director of the school along with two other lumads were allegedly killed by members of the Magahat-Bagani, an alleged paramilitary group linked with the AFP.

Palabay cited a 2008 report by Alston, who recommended that paramilitary groups be disbanded. But the recommendation wasn't fully realized, she said.

"If you look at the administration's promises, what leaves really hanging is how the president is acting on many human rights issues."


Human-Rights_infograhics_CNNPH.png


Press Release: From PCPR MEDIA December 10, 2015

Aquino administration culpable for failing to uphold Human Rights‏ PCPR Media (pcprmedia@gmail.com) Add to contacts 12:38 PM Keep this message at the top of your inbox pcprmedia@gmail.com Press Statement

 

People around the world mark December 10 as International Human Rights Day. This day not only commemorates the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it also provides an opportunity to look more closely at the performance of Nation States, as parties to various international human rights standards.

The Aquino administration’s human rights record has been dismal. With 304 victims of extrajudicial killings and 324 victims of frustrated killings from July 2010 to November 2015 (as per documentation records of human rights organization Karapatan), President Aquino has failed to uphold the civil and political human rights of the Philippine citizenry.

The Philippines, truth be retold, also lags behind in performance when it comes to the respect of socio-economic rights. This nation’s high poverty incidence marks that more than half of the population is living below the poverty line, according to Ibon Data Bank.

Backward agriculture and insufficient local industry spawn swelling numbers of unemployed, with resulting increases in the number of people who experience constant and recurring states of hunger. With a government serving the interests of the so-called “haves,” it is no surprise that any supposed trickle-down benefit from much-hyped economic growth has not alleviated the grinding poverty and condition of the ordinary folks. Inadequate access to basic needs and essential social services, forced displacement, widespread landlessness and unemployment continue to be the experience of the majority.

With the majority of the population ever struggling for survival, dissent and political upheaval is not only expected, but even just and moral. In contrast, however, the very fiber of our democracy is threatened by violations of civil and political rights.

Detention of political prisoners, abductions and enforced disappearances, summary executions, extra-judicial killings, hamletting and forced displacement and various forms of political persecution continue unabated.

Unresolved cases of the killings of Church people under the Aquino Administration, such as Rabenio Sungit, Benjamin Bayles, Bro. Wilhelm Geertman, Datu Jimmy Liguyan and Fr. Fausto Tentorio, PIME, are the epitome of negligence by the State and human rights violations done with impunity.

Even cases with identified suspects like that of Datu Jimmy Liguyon, for whom a warrant of arrest has been issued against his alleged killer Alde Salusad have not moved forward because suspects are believed to be under the protection of the military. This has become the character of the State under the Aquino administration: even missionaries and Church leaders who dare to stand for what is right and provide help to those in need are made martyrs of State terror.

READ MORE...

President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has made clear that his administration has no intention to fulfil its mandate to prioritize the well-being of the Filipino people.

Culpable for gross human rights violations under Operation Plan Bayanihan, Aquino will continue to appear to ignore and downplay extra-judicial killings and other violations of human rights committed against the Filipino people.

Often far from the city centers, 223 peasants, 80 indigenous people, and 28 children are among the 304 victims of extrajudicial killings.

Whether by action or failure to act, President Aquino has failed to uphold the human rights of the people. In tolerating and more likely even encouraging the proliferation of paramilitary groups as well as exercising or failing to exercise his leadership as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who is alleged to have perpetrated and participated in most of these human rights violations, Aquino bears command responsibility and must be held to account for the dismal state of human rights under his presidency. ##

Reference: Nardy Sabino, General Secretary

09292269708

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PHILSTAR

Noy: I surpassed my supporters’ expectations By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 12, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


President Aquino

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino believes he has “surpassed” the expectations of the 16 million Filipinos who voted for him and has even gained more supporters now than when he was a presidential candidate in May 2010.

“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 during a question-and-answer forum at the Sofitel Hotel yesterday.

His remarks were made during the annual Christmas party of the predominantly female Bulong Pulungan weekly journalists’ forum.

“I think even the numbers – you look at the survey results – I have more supporters now than when we actually won in 2010,” Aquino said.

He called on media executives to help his administration continue the reforms.

Even if he claimed to be “uncomfortable” discussing his achievements, he took credit for what he described as the shrinking number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Statistics reveal that about 400,000 have returned to be employed in local-based jobs out of 10 million OFWs.

READ MORE...

“I am really so pleased about the decrease in the number of OFWs. There is a study that says at least about 400,000 of our countrymen have come back home and have found meaningful jobs,” Aquino said.

“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 the number of out-of-school youths,” he explained.

“In 2008, it was 2.7 million; it’s now down to 1.2 million despite the fact that there is an increase in population,” Aquino stressed.

Comparing himself to his predecessors, Aquino said a “major difference would be 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.

“Some, like things that I think before was close to impossible, now more and more I am convinced it is just a matter of time to achieve all of these things that we have to do,” Aquino said.


PHILSTAR

P-Noy continues denigration of Mar’s rivals By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 12, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II and PNoy

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino yesterday continued his attack against the rivals of administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II in the 2016 elections.

“Throughout every election, you have probably seen every possible character: the false prophets, the wannabe messiahs, the corrupt patrons and the well-intentioned but ill-equipped candidates,” Aquino told journalists at the Bulong Pulungan during their annual Christmas party at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.

As in Rome, Aquino did not identify who he was alluding to in his statement.

Obviously referring to Roxas, the President said, “We finally have someone selling a vision – with a track record that proves that this vision is not only achievable but probable through the continuity of reform.

“For the first time in memory, there is a valid call to continue the upward trajectory of our country,” Aquino added.

He urged the journalists to help him campaign for Roxas.

“I trust that, as exemplars of your profession, you will continue to do your part to speak the truth and deliver our message of hope – not only in the next six months, but even long after I leave office,” Aquino said.

The President believes that Roxas is still the man to beat in 2016.

“People start talking about my endorsement, I think that is proof that there is value to that endorsement, right? If it has no value, why bring attention to it?” Aquino said.

READ MORE...

He made the statement in reaction to the latest Social Weather Stations survey, which indicated that his endorsement has no weight as shown in the ratings of Roxas, who dropped to fourth place among the presidential aspirants.

Aquino also hit the administration of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

He urged members of the media to be instrumental in ensuring the reforms will continue in the next six years.

He warned the people against those who will be relentless in making sure that they retake the reins of powers.

“It is that message that enabled all of us to stand up against a dictator in 1986; dismantle the system of lying, cheating and stealing in government in 2010, and in turn lay the foundations for a Philippines that now works, a country where no one is left behind,” Aquino said.

“They are the same individuals who cannot afford another defeat. Still, there are others whose intentions are belied by their propensity for offering the moon and the stars, without actually putting forward any sort of context or plan for our collective future,” he added.


TRIBUNE

Noy takes a swipe anew at media critics Written by Joshua L. Labonera Saturday, 12 December 2015 00:00


PNoy President Aquino yesterday blasted his media critics again, insisting that some of them won’t stop thinking of ways on how to bring him down than accept the good things he has done during his almost six years in Malacańang.

“We all see my critics... It’s as if every morning the first thing in mind is how to bash... I’m not saying I should be praised left and right but I think I’ve done something good in these five years, but some people have closed their eyes (to these achievements) and there is no sense of responsibility,” he said.

When asked on what he wishes to forget about the job after his term as President, Aquino said it would be all the criticisms he received from the media.

“Perhaps I would be filled with negativity if I think about them, so I’d like to forget them,” think about them, so I’d like to forget them,” he added.

Aquino, however, want Filipinos to remember his presidency as a story of overcoming adversities, when he steps down from power next year.

The Chief Executive recalled that his administration has so far faced challenges that, in most instances, occurred during the Christmas season, among them Typhoons Pablo and Sendong, supertyphoon Yolanda, the Zamboanga siege and the Bohol earthquake.

“Now, if we look at all of these things that we’ve had to undertake… I’m hoping that people will say: Look at the challenges that we had to undergo as a people and how we overcame them,” he noted.

“And if there’s a future challenge, then perhaps they will be able to say: We will also surmount this in the same way that we managed to surmount that which we thought was insurmountable.”

Aquino said he draws inspiration from his parents’ accomplishments.
But the President also used a familiar stance in going after his political critics: The blame game.

READ MORE...

The Chief Executive started the finger-pointing as he put the underspending blame on former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the courts.

He said his administration was left with a soft foundation in starting to run the government, on top of unfinished infrastructure projects.

“On infrastructure, my predecessor had 10 and a half years to do all of that, first you have to get resources, next — this is simultaneous – you have to plug all the loopholes, you spend, it winds into someone’s pocket, you don’t produce anything,” he noted.

Aquino said he had to put necessary corrective measures to reform Arroyo’s form of governance, which he claimed to be ridden with corruption that inspired other officials as well to be corrupt.

“Correct the system, map out the things that have to be done and it was only in 2012 when we were really ready. In 2010 the budget was already ongoing, 2011 the budget was already submitted to a large degree but it’s not our work, 2012 was our first real project,” he said.

“The bottom line is we didn’t have the wherewithal; we started with all the debts, none of the resources, and we have a system that didn’t punish the corrupt which encouraged many corrupt individuals; we have the responsibility to make sure we are not throwing good after bad,” the President added.

Members of the Aquino Cabinet drew flak following the revelation that some of the departments have underspent their budget, which prevented or delayed public service.
Aquino also blamed the courts for delays on infrastructure, noting the lengthy processes.

He said while a temporary restraining order (TRO) cannot be imposed on infrastructure projects, the process which the courts set as an alternative still halts and delays projects.
Meanwhile, the President insisted that his support to administration candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas has value to voters.

“When people started talking about my endorsement, I think that in itself is a testimony that there is value to that endorsement. If it has no value, why bring attention to it,” he said.

-------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Aquino expects columnists to deliver message of hope
December 11, 2015 10:50 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER AND CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTER


Bulong Pulungan Forum Media/News/Publishing FACEBOOK PHOTO


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.”

Christmas wish

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.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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