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ILOILO CITY – In an unprecedented move, President Aquino has offered a public apology to the country’s two major foreign allies after being attacked by a controversial presidential candidate leading in recent surveys.
“I would like to apologize to them even though I did not start this fight,” the President said in Filipino during a huge administration campaign rally in Iloilo last Tuesday night, referring to the United States and Australia, the country’s economic and security allies.
Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier threatened to cut the country’s ties with the United States and Australia after their ambassadors criticized him for making insensitive rape remarks. The Davao City mayor, who kept his survey lead despite the rape joke, supposedly told the foreign envoys to “shut their mouths” and not interfere with local affairs.
Duterte, in a recent business forum, also criticized the US, Australia, and Japan for supposedly failing to take more action to stop China from expanding its presence in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.
The President, however, minced no words in criticizing Duterte, saying his reckless behavior and potty mouth may hurt the country’s foreign relations especially amid a raging maritime dispute in the South China Sea.
“If we have allies but we disrespect them, how many do you think will take our side especially since we are faced with a bigger enemy in the South China Sea?” said Aquino, who has been campaigning against Duterte for his alleged dictatorial tendency. “In fact, he has been quarrelling with our two allies. I would like to apologize to them. I did not start the fight but I have asked for an apology because it’s my job,” he added.
Unlike in previous campaign speeches, Aquino boldly mentioned the name of Duterte in his Iloilo speech while warning about an imminent dictatorship if he assumes power. He rebuked Duterte for his alleged plans to violate the Constitution by abolishing Congress and installing a revolutionary government, saying such alarming moves would undermine the country’s cherished democracy.
Aquino, however, reiterated that he is prepared to lay down his life to stop the return of another dictatorship that will throw away the freedom fought by his father, the late Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr.
“Hindi ko matatanggap na walang nangyari sa pagkamatay ng tatay ko at iba pa nating mga kababayan, libo-libo po.
‘Kailangang ibuhos ko ‘yung magagawa ko,” Aquino said. “Kung buhay ko ang katapat iyon lang ang tangan sa akin, e dapat hindi ganun kaimportante ‘yung buhay ko dahil hindi ko mailalaban ‘yung ipinaglaban ng tatay ko. Hindi magkakaroon ng kabuluhan,” he added.