Aquino also said he is skipping Duterte’s State of the Nation Address for the third time because he would rather watch at home and focus on what the Chief Executive has to say.
Edd Gumban
Aquino: 'Let Filipinos assess Duterte’s 2 years in office'
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - July 19, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former president Benigno Aquino III is leaving it up to the Filipino people to assess President Duterte’s two years in office, saying it will be self-serving for him to make a judgment of Duterte’s performance.

Aquino also said he is skipping Duterte’s State of the Nation Address for the third time because he would rather watch at home and focus on what the Chief Executive has to say.

“There are a lot of things that can be said, but it is difficult to say them…If I make a comment, they will say it’s self-serving. I’d rather have the people tell me, the people that I refer to as my bosses tell me, what do they think?” Aquino told reporters yesterday in an interview in an event in Makati City.

He explained he prefers to watch the SONA at home because he does not want to be distracted by people’s chatting or media interviews on his reactions before and after the SONA because Duterte’s message “is very important.”

Aquino said he is aware of various developments and he wants to hear Duterte’s report on what the country has been through and the direction he will take for the future.

The former president refused to comment on the proposed Charter change and shift to federal form of government, noting the matter must be studied carefully.

Duterte’s consultative committee has submitted its proposal for a new constitution that will pave the way for federalism. However, talks about canceling the elections in 2019 and extending the terms of those office have surfaced in line with the proposal.

Asked whether he thinks he and the Liberal Party members where he belongs are being persecuted, Aquino cited an example and said it will be up to the people to determine whether persecution is indeed happening.

He cited the case supposedly being readied against then interior and local government secretary Mel Sarmiento, ex-Philippine National Police chief Ricardo Marquez and former agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala for the 2016 Kidapawan incident even if they did their duties when violence occurred.

Thousands of farmers and their supporters blockaded the Davao-Cotabato Highway in Kidapawan, North Cotabato for three days in March 2016, prompting the police to disperse them and resulted in violence.

Aquino said there were members of the current administration seen speaking with the protesters, some of whom admitted being misled into joining the rally and prevented from leaving by marshalls. 

Disbursement Acceleration Program

Aquino also maintained that there is no basis for the Office of the Ombudsman to charge him over the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) because his administration followed congressional appropriations and laws on the use of savings.

Speaking about the issue for the first time since the ombudsman charged him for usurpation of legislative powers under Article 239 of the Revised Penal Code, Aquino said his lawyers could see no basis for the reversal of the anti-graft body’s earlier decision to absolve him of any liability in connection with the DAP.

“There is no new evidence shown, there is no new argument given…so I can’t help but wonder why the decision changed…there seems to be two conclusions using the same evidence, the same argument,” Aquino said in Filipino. – With Edu Punay

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