MANILA (Mabuhay) – Stay away from people who pretend to push for reforms but are in fact peddling lies, President Benigno Aquino III said on Monday.
Aquino, who led the celebration of National Heroes Day, said that while many nameless Filipinos strive to contribute to the country’s development, there are some who instead sow discord.
“There are still a select and selfish few who remain determined to bring back the old and abusive political systems,” he said during his speech at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.
He warned the public to remain vigilant “against those who seek to sow doubt and lies” and to “refuse to allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who only pretend at reform.”
“Stay on the straight path,” he said.
Aquino did not mention who he was referring to but he has been vocal in the past against his critics, especially those who accused him of protecting the pork barrel system.
He gave his speech as hundreds of protesters led by the Abolish Pork Movement converged at Rizal Park on Monday. The group, which was also behind last year’s Million People March, is attempting to gather six million signatures to ban any form of pork barrel. The protesters claimed that there is still pork barrel for lawmakers, although in another form and another name.
But Aquino said Filipinos should instead work together and support his administration.
“What can be achieved when a hundred million Filipinos work arm-in-arm towards a single goal?” he asked.
Aquino pointed out that the National Heroes Day allows people to remember and be grateful for the sacrifices made by those before them.
He also said it was an “opportunity to reflect on the meaning of being a hero, not only in the past, but in our present situation.”
“We must also remember that there are many heroes who remain anonymous — whose deeds are not known to many,” said the President, enumerating acts of heroism encountered over the past year.
From saving lives during calamities to being honest and hardworking, Aquino said everyday heroes work alongside their countrymen instead of giving up.
“Instead of hurling criticism or spreading negativism, which some of our countrymen have grown accustomed to doing, these remarkable Filipinos chose to empower their fellowmen,” he said of Filipinos, who, despite losing everything during the 2011 tsunami in Japan, thanked God for being able to survive the disaster.
“Their contagious optimism and the strong faith displayed by them truly encouraged their Japanese neighbors—these, with the positive disposition of the people there served as the foundation for the reconstruction of Fukushima,” he said.
The President also lauded Noli Dela Cruz, a government worker, who helped save lives during the onslaught of super typhoon “Yolanda” by tying together bed sheets and clothes that served as a lifeline for his neighbors caught in the flood.
“The responsibility to make certain that we will bequeath to coming generations a Philippines freer and more progressive still rests on our shoulders. Indeed, times have changed, and thus, the forms of heroism we are capable of living out have changed as well,” Aquino said.
At one point in his speech, he referred to an article by Ma. Francesca Santiago published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Young Blood section.
“To her, it seems as if the latest trend is to hurl criticism, even at those who are doing everything in their power to uphold the interests of the people,” Aquino said.
“Instead of helping to find a solution, there are some who want to worsen the fear and suffering of our countrymen. It is clear to her that everyone has a right to free expression, but at the same time, each one has the obligation to remain just and reasonable.”
Impressed with what she has written, Aquino said he was surprised to learn that Santiago was only 13 years old.
“It is impressive that, at this age, she already exhibits more discernment than some who are much older than her. If this is the caliber of thinking of the youth today, I am certain that we are indeed facing a brighter future,” the President said. (MNS)