Aquino: Filipinos will choose 'right leader' in 2016

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Friday, June 12, expressed confidence Filipinos, wizened by a history of fighting oppression, will not allow the gains they enjoy today to be squandered by bad choices in 2016.

Aquino made the fearless forecast at the commemoration of the 117th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence in Sta Barbara, Iloilo.

The President recalled how, in his recent state visit in Japan, he was repeatedly asked what he would do to ensure that his administration's reforms would continue beyond his term.

"My response to them: It is up to the Filipino people; they will continue the change, which they themselves started. They know what is right, from what is wrong. I am optimistic that they will choose the right leader, especially because they have seen what our agenda of good governance brings," he said.

Aquino said Filipinos demonstrated their discernment in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, when millions of Filipinos went to the streets to end repressive rule.

"I am certain: Our Bosses will continue what we started," he said. (READ: Aquino: Filipinos won't fall for 'two-faced' candidates)

Continuity

Among those who were at the Iloilo event were Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, the presumptive administration standard-bearer in the 2016 elections, the only official in attendance who was given a special mention by the Chief Executive.

Aquino said he signed Executive Order 183 creating the Negros Island Region after Roxas endorsed it, and following consultations with stakeholders.

"Like in the past, we know that whenever we task Mar Roxas to lead a project or program, you can expect that initiative will succeed," he said.

After lauding Roxas, he reiterated his optimism that a continuation of his administration's tuwid na daan (straight path) principle under the next leadership would help the country improve on its present status.

"Indeed, I am confident that so long as we continue to tread the straight and righteous path, we will be able to continue the positive changes we experience at present," Aquino said.

The President has said that the Liberal Party slate, led by the presidential and vice presidential candidates, is still subject to discussions with LP members and their allies. He will make the announcement after his last State of the Nation Address in July.

Inclusive growth

In his speech, Aquino apprised the people on his administration's efforts to foster inclusive growth, and why it is important to sustain the momentum created by his policy of governance reform after he steps down next year.

He mapped his administration's bid to combat poverty which remains a challenge 117 years after the proclamation of Philippine independence.

Aquino cited, among others, the Conditional Cash Transfer Program that benefits 4.4 million poor qualified families, based on certain conditions such as ensuring their children go to school.

He also cited the creation of Negros Island Region, which brings Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental under one region. When the provinces belonged to different regions, they had to share resources with other regions and not just with one another, even if they were on the same island and shared the same concerns.

"With the One Island Region, the allocation of funds by government for this single region becomes more focused. Thus, our countrymen there benefit faster and more directly from the projects implemented within the region," Aquino said.

Why Sta Barbara?

In his speech, Aquino explained that he chose to lead this year's celebration in Sta Barbara to show that the bid for Philippine Independence was a nationwide effort, and not only centered in Manila, where the primary celebration is traditionally held. 

Sta Barbara is where the Philippine flag was first raised outside Luzon in November 1898.

Aquino said he started the tradition of leading the commemoration of the event in related historical sites, or places other than the Rizal Shrine in Luneta when he assumed the presidency. He was in Kawit, Cavite, in 2011; Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, in 2012; Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila in 2013; and Naga, Camarines Sur in 2014.

Next year, his final year to lead Philippine Independence Day rites as Chief Executive, he will go to Mindanao, Aquino said. – Rappler.com