MANILA, Philippines – Former President Benigno Aquino III is convinced that Vice President Leni Robredo can manage the country well, contrary to what President Duterte described as incompetent.
To commemorate his father's 35th death day yesterday at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque, Aquino said that while respecting Duterte's opinion, the president must also respect the people who voted for Robredo.
Under follow-up rules, Aquino stressed that it is Robredo who will replace Duterte when he resigns and vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. do not lose.
"(Duterte) knows that, being a lawyer, so that might be a personal opinion, but he knows what he has to do according to the constitution," Aquino told reporters in an ambush interview.
Aquino added that he will help those who have "similar views and advocates" with him in the next year's next elections.
He added that he will campaign for candidates from the Liberal Party (LP) in the Senatorial elections to stimulate the opposition and their checks and balances function in the government.
He said he wants to increase the number of opponents.
Aquino urged the population who are fed up with the way the Duterte government runs the country to vote for their candidates next year.
In his speech during the Mass on Sto. The Domingo Church in Quezon City, Aquino, said that Filipinos should use the polls of next year to express their dissatisfaction with the current government, and cheer up supporters usually dressed in yellow shirts.
Among the attendees were Robredo, Sens. Francis Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV and some former members of Aquino's cabinet.
The former president took a stab at the Duterte war against illegal drugs in which 4,410 suspected drug users and users were killed in law enforcement operations.
Aquino regretted that the truth seems to be a scarce commodity in the board of Duterte. To prove his point, he expressed his doubts about the police's well-known reason that drug suspects were killed after they had quarreled.
"When a suspect is arrested, his hands are handcuffed on his back, not in front of him," Aquino said in the Filipino, adding that he was surprised how suspects could fight back.
Aquino also wondered why police officers do not question their subordinates involved in these alleged armed encounters.
Meanwhile, Duterte said that he had nothing against Robredo, but he claimed that the country would deteriorate if it succeeded if he decides to resign.
"Robredo would be vulnerable to the charlatans who surround her", the president told the Marco Polo Davao Hotel to more than 300 members of the Lex Talionis Fraternity or San Beda Law School and Ateneo de Davao University during the last weekend's jubilee.
Duterte said earlier that the LP that leads Robredo is drooling to regain power.
As far as she was concerned, Robredo urged Filippino's to fight for the liberties where Benigno Aquino Jr. for died and to "fulfill the unshakable faith (Ninoy) in us as a people."
"Our memory of Ninoy tends to be largely focused on his martyrdom, when by his courage in the face of death he inspired a people to find theirs," she said.
"Despite prison, hopelessness and the apparent indifference of so many people whose liberties he fights, Ninoy never lost confidence in his fellow Filipinos and the nation he loved," said the vice president.
Sens. Pangilinan and Leila de Lima called on Filippino's to continue the struggle for true democracy, the right to life and a fair trial.
Pangilinan, who is president of the LP, noted how Aquino led the struggle to regain the freedom and democracy of the country and did not falter, even though he was faced with death because he was against the dictatorship.
"The struggle continues, for the right to life, for a better life, for the right to hold the government accountable, for social services, for the right to a fair trial, for a safe and healthy environment," Pangilinan said.
"Now it is up to us, the people, especially the youth of today whose future is at stake, to bring about the change that Ninoy paid for with his life.This is the time to show our part and show how much we love our country, "he added.
The LP is now the recognized political opposition in the country.
The Lima, which is currently being held after being accused of drugs, said that Filippino's should always be reminded of Aquino's courage as Duterte continues to threaten the country's democracy.
"Let us continue to resist this dark period in our history, arm in arm and fight for truth and justice," she added in Philippine. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Edith Regalado, Helen Flores, Marvin Sy