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More free time for Aquino coming

Writing a book and learning to play a musical instrument are among the plans of President Aquino when he returns to a life as private citizen.

The President, who will end his six-year term at the end of the month, said he would have a “lot more free time” not only to engage with people but also venture into these new hobbies.

“First of all, I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet. There’s always that ambition to write a book; the other portion is to read books that have been gathering dust,” Aquino said in a recent interview with Channel News Asia.

“Another business is to see if I have any talent to study or play a musical instrument. Hopefully, I’ll get to do all of that within the year,” added the bachelor leader, a known music aficionado.

Aquino said he also intends to go back to his residence on Times St. in Quezon City and touch base with the community again. The modest Aquino house is currently undergoing renovation work in preparation for his return on June 30.

Aquino has two weeks left in office before his popular successor, Rodrigo Durterte, assumes power. Duterte beat his closest rival, Manuel A. Roxas II, the anointed one of the President, in the last elections on a promise to launch a tough campaign against criminality and corruption.

Aquino has declined anew to comment about Duterte, saying he wanted to give his successor “some space” to lead the country. “At the end of the day, my successor is chosen by the people. I’d like to give him some space; I don’t want to add to the clutter. I impose on myself a one-year silent period with regards to his actions and of course I will refrain from giving unsolicited advice,” he said.

On his greatest achievement, the President affirmed that he is proud that Filipinos were no longer apathetic. “The bottom line is there’s been a change to the attitude of our countrymen,” Aquino said, citing his government’s reforms to promote economic growth, fight corruption, and improve infrastructure and social services in the past six years.

Aquino said Filipinos used to leave the country to find better jobs but now there has been a reduction of deployment of workers abroad.

“By official records, there were 10 million overseas Filipino workers and there’s been a reduction of between 400,000 and 600,000, coupled with the lowest unemployment rate in the past decade, which means that they not only came home, they actually found gainful employment,” Aquino said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)