Noy to Pinoys: Let’s stay together as a team

(The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - In the “last two minutes” of his administration, President Aquino wants Filipinos to stay together as one team and deliver “one big fight” against corruption and poverty.

“Heart-strong: as long we are united and have heartfelt concern for others, we will surely achieve our collective goals as one nation,” Aquino said at a luncheon he hosted yesterday for the men’s and women’s volleyball teams of Ateneo de Manila University and the women’s volleyball team of De La Salle University at the Malacañang Heroes’ Hall.

The President, who has been in hot water for two months due to the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash, used the catchphrase of Lady Eagles’ volleyball team coach Anusorn “Tai” Bundit.

“That is our call now, especially for the young people who will inherit the reforms we planted: ang mag-One Big Fight laban sa katiwalian at kahirapan (against corruption and poverty),” he added.

Aquino noted that there are lessons to learn from the “good examples” of historical rivals Ateneans and Lasallians.

“Even if you are at the center of age-old rivalry of Ateneo and La Salle, you don’t completely get carried away by the competition and provocation. At your age, you are showing, even to the ones older than you, the power of humility and having good relations with others,” the President said.

“It also got me to thinking: I hope the politicians, even the members of the different sectors of society, would show the same cooperation. If they look at a rivalry of competition, they could hopefully ask themselves: Is this a healthy rivalry? If there are criticisms, they would hopefully ask: Is this constructive?” he added.

The President said this was what he wanted to instill in the minds and hearts of young people. He said that although separated by islands and different in many ways, “Filipinos are just one team.”

Aquino said he could understand how love and loyalty to an alma mater or organization, for instance, could drive one to become really competitive as if lives were at stake.

The President noted that his Cabinet had been united all this time and would only be divided when Ateneo and La Salle played against each other.

He said he had been missing the most exciting games due to his work schedule but he was most grateful seeing in newspapers the next day photographs of players from opposing teams embracing each other.

“Despite the grueling competition and pressure to win, you showed the spirit of unity and sportsmanship,” he said.

He congratulated all those who were part of the teams and their institutions for being a reflection of energy, persistence and determination in and out of court.


‘Unwavering support’

Members of the House of Representatives from Northern Luzon, meanwhile, have expressed their “full and unwavering” support for the President amid the controversy surrounding his role in the Mamasapano incident.

In a manifesto, lawmakers belonging to the North Luzon Alliance (NLA) referred to the administration’s efforts to bring peace to Mindanao.

“We remain confident in the leadership of President Aquino and his programs for espousing long lasting peace and uplifting our economy, now recognized as one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” they said.

“We remain steadfast in our full and unwavering support for the President,” they said.

“We appeal to our colleagues in the House… and all our countrymen to join us in this public declaration and continue to address urgent issues and concerns that affect our constituents and the Filipino people.”

Twenty-five House members signed the manifesto. Of the 25, 22 are from Pangasinan, the Ilocos provinces, La Union, Abra, Quirino, the Cordillera region and Cagayan Valley.

Among the signatories are Reps. Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte; Georgina de Venecia, Rosemarie Arenas and Leopoldo Bataoil of Pangasinan; and Conrado Estrella lll of party-list group Abono.

Reps. Romeo Acop of Antipolo City, Linabelle Ruth Villarica of Bulacan and Samuel Pagdilao of ACT-CIS party-list also joined their NLA colleagues in signing the manifesto.

Bataoil, Acop and Pagdilao are former senior officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The NLA is the first regional grouping of House members to rally behind Aquino.

A senior administration lawmaker meanwhile advised the President not to be too mindful of his ratings and just stick to his style of governance.

“I would like to think the President’s endorsement still has weight and whether its good or bad, it’s up to the people to decide,” Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo said.

The deputy majority leader said it was understandable if Aquino was affected by his plunging ratings as “no politician wants to become unpopular.”

Aquino had earlier dismissed his critics as merely trying to erode his “endorsement power” in the elections next year.

The President is expected to further explain his side on the Mamasapano incident in his speech tomorrow at the Philippine National Police Academy graduation ceremonies, where he will also unveil the Bantayog sculpture for the SAF 44.

He has blamed then suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima for giving him inaccurate information about the extraction of embattled police commandos sent on a mission to capture suspected terrorists.

Aquino is also blaming former Special Action Force chief Director Getulio Napeñas for the lapses in the Mamasapano operation.



Stories about his administration’s achievements abound – but are usually buried in the inside pages of newspapers seemingly engrossed in “negativism,” President Aquino said yesterday in another jab at the media.

“There has been so much good news these past few years, and yet, this good news has often been relegated to the back pages of our broadsheets,” he told guests and delegates to the Philippines Investment Forum at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.

“I must admit: our campaign to change the mindset that negativism sells is still a work in progress,” Aquino said, vowing to vigorously work for the country’s continued economic success.

“This is why I have made it a point to spread the good news, and why I am always thankful for those who stay balanced and constructive: pointing out areas in which we can improve, while also acknowledging our progress,” he added.

The Chief Executive pointed out there has been no lack of success stories about his administration – from his anti-corruption program to the three credit rating upgrades the country had earned.

Moreover, the country has gained the distinction of being Asia’s second strongest economy after China under his administration, he said.

“While it is true that we have had our share of setbacks and challenges; we also have an impressive number of achievements under our belt,” Aquino said. “Here, we have been able to trace the success story that is the Philippine economy.”

When asked in December 2014 to describe his relationship with the media, Aquino said he has learned to deal with journalists and media entities.

“Perhaps like any product, you get what you pay for. There are certain publications that make it a point to not just say it’s half-empty, but almost totally empty, regardless of whatever the topic is,” Aquino said.

“There are those that will tend to be objective, but there is of course the temptation to be negative. So, I guess, we have learned to deal with each other and hopefully, I really try to strive for a consensus and it’s still a work in progress,” he said.

“The appeal has always been: Why don’t you look at what we are trying to do, and if we can improve, we are always ready to listen. And if we are wrong, please do point it out, we want to correct it,” Aquino said.

“As you have earned the respect of our people, you have no other motivation than to do what is right, to voice your informed and honest opinions, to stimulate relevant and productive discussions, and to set a standard in news-making that caters not to the mob but to the truth,” he said. – Aurea Calica, Jess Diaz, Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero

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