NEW YORK CITY – US President Barack Obama has complimented President Benigno S. Aquino III for his achievements after a year in office.
President Aquino, who seated beside the US President at the launch of Open Government Partnership here, said Obama was courteous enough to acknowledge the government’s crusade against corruption.
“After the session, he gave a compliment on the achievements that we’ve been brought the first year. He told us that ‘I understand there have been those that have been pushing back,’ – especially those who were dissatisfied with the results of our investigations,” President Aquino said.
The President even shared about Obama’s resentment towards those against his proposed reforms for the US.
“Tulad raw dito, meron ring mga nagpu-push back sa kanyang reforms. Siyempre marami siyang problema, sabi ko nga, I wish him the best of luck in addressing all of these,” President Aquino said.
He also invited President Obama to visit the Philippines.
“Siguro makakapag-usap uli kami ng mas mahaba sa sidelines sa Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which is November. I guess, Honolulu would be a smaller group and we’ll have more time to talk there,” Mr. Aquino said.
But the meeting, the President said will depend on the Foreign Affairs Departments of the US and the Philippines.
Aquino reiterated his administration’s commitment to honest and effective governance before the 46 world leaders attending the launch of a global partnership for better governments.
In his speech at the OGP launch, he said the new multilateral initiative presented clear advantages to the Philippines as the government could now access and exchange best practices, peer consultation and technical assistance in implementing its domestic initiatives.
“Allow me then to salute all the founding members of OGP, as well as the new countries who have more recently shown interest in standing up for transparent, accountable, and participatory governance. Likewise, let me thank the OGP for honoring my country with membership in the OGP Steering Committee,” Aquino said.
He said that being a member of the committee acknowledges and further strengthens the Philippines’ commitment to promoting transparency, fostering accountability, and combating corruption.
“A participatory government lies at the very foundation of our efforts,” he added.
The Chief Executive recognized the power of social media as a vital tool for reaching the citizenry and to gain trust, which he described as the foundation of a genuine partnership between leaders and their people.
In his speech, Aquino said social media could expose corruption and other abuses as well as arouse public opinion to mobilize and reclaim their government.
“Anyone with access to an Internet connection can reach millions of people and dispense pearls of wisdom or, perversely, misinform and mislead in pursuit of a selfish agenda. Government must open itself to those pearls of wisdom, wherever they may originate,” he said.
The President explained that if there was no openness on the part of government, there could be no unity of purpose and action between the people and their leaders.
“Where government is open with its people, there you will find national solidarity: of purpose, and of action,” he added.
The Chief Executive even cited that before the advent of modern communications technologies, governments could lull themselves into thinking that even if they lacked popular consent, they had the luxury of time to play deaf and dumb to their people’s needs.
“What took fourteen long years– from 1972, when Filipinos had their democracy replaced with dictatorship, to 1986, when my countrymen restored our democracy – can, today, happen much quicker,” Aquino pointed out.
“The ever-quickening pace of communications and ever-increasing opportunities for engaging in conversations across sectors and borders is both a boon and a bane,” the President added.
Aquino also called on his fellow government officials to recognize and engage their citizens in a dialogue and reinforce a culture of openness, which, in turn, banishes the opacity that breeds both a temptation among those in power to engage in crimes, and popular mistrust of government.
After weeks of being mum on the issue regarding Valenzuela City Councilor Shalani Soledad’s engagement, her former boyfriend, President Aquino finally broke his silence here about the planned wedding.
“You know I like the song ‘Got to Believe in Magic’. There’s this line there that says ‘Tell me how two people find each other’. Well now she found someone. Ako kasi tinatanong ko pa din sa sarili ko how do people find each other? Siya nasagot na niya,” the bachelor president said.
Last September 13, Pasig City Representative Roman Romulo confirmed his hushed relationship with Soledad and the wedding would likely take place next year.
Asked about the President’s intention to attend the wedding if invited by the couple, he said “kapag sinagot ko ang tanong mong ‘yan para ko namang sinabi na imbitahin niyo ako. Pag sinabi ko di ako dadalo parang sasabihin niyo may sama ako ng loob… Walang tamang sagot diyan.”
Romulo, son of President Aquino’s former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, is one of the most eligible bachelors in the House of Representatives and has been elected senior deputy majority leader as part of the Malacanang-backed majority bloc.
President Aquino gave his best wishes to the couple. Soledad was already introduced to the Romulo family in a dinner earlier this month and both parents liked Soledad for their son, the lawmaker’s sister, Berna Romulo said.
The Romulos are also known close friends of the Aquino family.