Ex-Pres. Aquino criticizes Duterte gov't on Ninoy's 35th death anniversary

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 21) — Former President Benigno Aquino III delivered subtle jabs at the Duterte administration in a speech during his father's 35th death anniversary in Quezon City Tuesday.

Speaking at a mass for the former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. at the Santo Domingo Church, the former President explained why he chose to go slow in denouncing policies of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Aquino somehow has been critical of the Duterte government on specific issues, such as the maritime dispute with China, but now, he took a swipe on the current administration while still exercising restraint.

"Nasa simbahan tayo, hindi ko naman ugaling makipag-away ng walang saysay. Hanggang dito na lang muna ang sasabihin ko tungkol sa mga isyung ito. Maingat akong magkomento dahil ang trato sa akin ay kalaban 'pag nagmungkahi ako. Baka panindigan na lang ng nakaupo ang binitawang salita at mapapasama pa ang taumbayan," he said.

[Translation: We are in church, and it is not in my nature to pick senseless fights. I will only go up to here on these issues. I give careful comments because I am treated like an enemy if I give a suggestion. Perhaps, the one in power will just have to live up to his words and the people might suffer otherwise.]

But Aquino raised questions on the government's seeming inaction over the brutal and bloody war on drugs, especially on cases of suspected drug peddlers killed in police operations.

He also spoke about the current rice supply problem affecting many parts of the country.

Aquino said he chose to remain silent during the first year of Duterte's presidency, and has remained so even after the second year.

The former President said he'd rather let the public pass judgment on the current administration.

"Pero iba na rin po siguro kung mararanasan natin yung kanilang pamamahala. At ayoko naman sabihin na kaya hindi nila maabot ang gusto nilang maabot, ay dahil nakikialam tayo. Pinabayaan natin sila. May pruweba na tayo kung anong direksyon nila. Kayo na po magsasabi kung anong direksyon ang tama," he said

[Translation: But it would be different if we experience their leadership. And I don't want to say the reason why they can't get what they want to achieve is because we interfered. We have let them be. We have proof of what direction they're taking. It will be up to you to decide what's the right direction.]

Aquino added the 2019 midterm elections could be the right opportunity for voters to pass judgment on Duterte, saying it has always been seen as a referendum on a current administration.

"Kung sang-ayon tayo sa takbo ng bansa natin ngayon, iboto po ang kakampi ng administrasyon. Pero kung hindi ka sang-ayon, hindi lang iboto ang ating mga kandidato, ikampanya nyo pa sila. Palakasin niyo ang magdadala ng tinatawag na checks and balances sa gobyerno," Aquino said.

[Translation: If you agree with how the country is being run, vote for the allies of the administration. But if you disagree, don't just vote for our candidates, but campaign for them. Strengthen those who will carry the so-called checks and balances in government.]

In a chance interview after the mass, Aquino said he would actively participate in campaigning for candidates both for national and local positions under the Liberal Party's (LP) banner.

It will be tough for a "party out of power," he said, adding he was confident his party would deliver a good fight against the administration slate.