President Benigno Aquino III gave a warning shot to Davao City Rodrigo Duterte that he wouldn’t stand idly by if the leading presidential bet becomes a dictator and throw away the freedom fought for by his martyred father.
Aquino gave a fiery speech in Iloilo on 3 May 2016 where he said he was willing to lay down his life to stop the country from going back to the failed martial law experiment.
“Hindi ko matatanggap na walang nangyari sa pagkamatay ng tatay ko at iba pa nating mga kababayan, libo-libo po. ‘ailangang ibuhos ko ‘yung magagawa ko. Kung buhay ko ang katapat iyon lang ang tangan sa akin, e dapat hindi ganun kaimportante ‘yung buhay ko dahil hindi ko mailalaban ‘yung ipinaglaban ng tatay ko. Hindi magkakaroon ng kabuluhan,” said Aquino.
Aquino’s father, Ninoy, died in Aug. 21,1983 which triggered a wave of protests against the Marcos dictatorship which culminated in the EDSA People Power revolution.
Aquino said he has received a torrent of phone and text messages from different sectors telling him that he was the only one who could stop the rise of an uncouth and bullying president with no respect for laws or women and children.
“But I have only 58 days left, I will be an ordinary citizen. If ever our fears become true and he becomes a dictator, do you think I can still act? I’d probably be number on his order of battle,” said Aquino.
So what triggered Aquino’s strong statement against Duterte?
Aquino cited the Duterte’s 29 April 2016 interview on GMA News which sent memories of the dark days of martial law rushing back in his mind. Aquino recited Duterte’s words as if these seared in his heart.
In that interview, Duterte had declared he would abolish Congress if Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV would carry out his threat to impeach him over his il-gotten wealth if the mayor won as president.
In that interview, Duterte said: “Kapag natalo ka patay ka. Every revolution that succeeds, siya ang tigas. He now becomes the authority…Ako na ang Congress. Ako na ang Presidente.”
“He’s a lawyer but I’m not. But I studied the Constitution and I challenge everyone to look into the Constitution: where is the power of President to abolish Congress? He might abolish the Supreme Court next. But look for it, there is no such right,” said Aquino.
Aquino said Congress and the SC were part of the check and balance system to prevent grave abuse of discretion.
He also cited Duterte’s plan to form a revolutionary government which would be like Martial Law but to be called by another name and his repeated claims: “Walang batas-batas. Ako ang masusunod. Ako ang tama. Ako ang magaling.”
Aquino corrected Duterte who claimed that his mother, the President Cory Aquino, also headed a revolutionary government from 1986 to 1987.
“My mother mother didn’t exercise powerr all by herself. She immediately came up with the 1987 Constitution which was approved by 90 percent of Filipinos,” said Aquino.
Aquino was worried that Duterte’s brusque behaviour, potty mouth and sheer lack of statesmanship could spell trouble for the country’s international relations.
“Katulad ‘yung kanyang pagsasalita ay naiiba. Okay na kaya iyon? Iyon bang ganung klaseng pagsasalita magdadala ng isang kilong bigas sa kaninumang hapag? Kapag naghanap tayo ng kakampi at binati mo ng pabalagbag, ilan kaya ang kakampi sa atin? E mabigat ‘yung kalaban natin sa South China Sea,” said Aquino.
This early, Aquino said he was forced to apologize to the US and Australia for Duterte’s undiplomatic remarks against the country’s allies.
Aquino urged those who agree with him of Duterte’s threat to democracy to share his views with relatives and friends through text mesages and social media.