MANILA – President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday expressed optimism about the chances of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II winning the presidential race in the May elections.
President Aquino acknowledged that Roxas was behind Senator Grace Poe, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Vice President Jejomar Binay in the recent Pulse Asia survey results.
“It’s true, they are polling in the 20-27 bracket. But, perhaps, what is important is (not) where they are now, but where they came from. Not too long ago, they were polling in the single digit figures — and very low single digit. If I remember correctly, our vice presidential candidate (Leni Robredo) was polling at about one percent. So, there has been a dramatic rise in their numbers,” he said during the open forum of the Publish Asia 2016 Conference held at the Manila Hotel.
The President also pointed out that the other candidates began campaigning a lot earlier than Roxas.
“In defense of the party, Secretary Roxas, not too long ago, was still the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, was busy attending to his work rather than primarily campaigning. There seems to be a truism in the Philippines that the start of the campaign period officially is like a week ago or so. But unofficially, the start of the campaign period is the day after the elections for the next elections supposed to be in this country,” he explained.
“So, we have opponents who have been campaigning for the longest time… Let’s admit it, they had – in a sense – stories that were more interesting from my human interest perspective. Now, by the time our people get to the polling place, they will not have enough time to really digest the issues and see as to who will actually carry out the reforms that we have been doing. I think, even a surface perusal of all of the platforms of their opponents basically say that they will not stop any of our programs, policies or projects, but rather they will enhance (them).”
President Aquino said he believes that those who have benefitted from the government’s reform programs would soon be the LP bets’ “main campaigners.”
“In fact, perhaps, this is unique in the sense that nobody can really be branded as primarily opposition. It seems like everybody wants to say that they will do exactly what we did but they will do it better, especially after a recent survey came up – we have a conditional cash transfer program – and that survey basically said 80 percent of our countrymen will support whoever will continue that particular program. So you had this… everybody claiming how they will improve on the program that we have really expanded greatly. So, at the end of the day, we are confident. In fact, pretty soon, the main campaigners will be the people who have benefitted from all of the reforms that we have instituted in Daang Matuwid,” the President further said.
President Aquino also discounted the possibility of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. winning the vice presidential contest.
“I think it was after our celebration of our EDSA Revolution, February 25, where I did make a very pointed statement that a lot of people got encouraged to remind, especially our younger generation, our revolution happened 30 years ago. We have had a new generation in place, a new generation that is hard put to understand what it was when the Philippines was under Martial Law,” he said.
“Now, I think I have said it, and at the risk of helping Senator Marcos with his campaign, if at some point in time all he said was, ‘We did mistakes, then, allow me to correct these mistakes.’ But, unfortunately, his message has been – I think he was quoted as saying that that was the golden period for the Philippines, which is contrary to the majority’s opinion in this country, which you will need – whose support he will need to get elected,” he added.
The younger generation of Filipinos, he said, now have access to various means to make them experience what life was like under Martial Law.
“They will realize that this is not consistent with their vision or their aspirations of what their life should be. And then they will answer, I believe the question in this manner: Should we allow an opportunity, even vague at this point in time, for somebody who does not recognize the mistakes of that past to be in a position to commit the same mistakes somewhere in the future? And, I think, the answer will be a redounding ‘No,’” said the President.