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Noynoy talks about democracy, PCGG, illegal drugs and human rights


Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III yesterday called for the preservation of democracy during the commemoration of the eighth death anniversary of his mother, former president Corazon C. Aquino, at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.

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The late Mrs. Aquino and her slain husband, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., are considered icons of democracy after the bloodless EDSA People Power revolution that ended the dictatorship of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1986. “Cory,” as she is fondly called, died on Aug. 1, 2009 due to colon cancer.

An intimate mass was celebrated around 11 a.m. with Father Manoling Francisco, a family friend, presiding the homily and the five Aquino siblings present – Maria Elena (Ballsy), Aurora Corazon (Pinky), Victoria Elisa (Viel) and Kristina Bernadette (Kris) – including Senator Bam Aquino, Kris’ sons Josh and Bimby, and former Education secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, among others. The iconic song Bayan Ko was sung at the end of the mass.

The tomb of Cory and Ninoy were adorned with yellow flowers sent by relatives and friends including Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim.

Asked if democracy holds more meaning now, Aquino said: “Kahit naman anong bagay kapag pinabayaan guguho eh, mawawala. Parehong obligasyon natin na nagmana sa lahat ng sakripisyo ng mga nauna sa atin, na ipagtanggol ’yung mga karapatan na hindi naman ibinigay kundi ipinaglaban. Kapag hindi natin ipinaglaban ito, baka gumising tayo isang araw na wala na (Anything left for naught will crumble and be lost. It is our obligation as the ones who inherited the fruits of the sacrifices of those before us, to defend the rights we would not have gained had they not been fought for. If we don’t fight for it, one day we will wake up to see it gone).”

Aquino also suggested that it was, perhaps, time for President Duterte to try another style in dealing with the problem on illegal drugs as he noted that the brutal method might have been ineffective.

Aquino cited a Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) survey which said that there were 1.7 million drug users when he assumed the presidency in 2010 and the number went down to 1.3 million in the middle of his term.

However, the number grew to 1.8 million in 2015, where the first half was Aquino’s last term and the other half was the start of the Duterte administration’s, he said.

He even cited how the former DDB chairman’s declaration of 1.8 million drug users cost him his job because his figures were not in agreement with what the President had claimed.

Former DDB Chairman Benjamin Reyes was sacked by Duterte in May because of alleged contradicting reports on the number of drug personalities in the country.

Aquino also criticized the threat to abolish the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which were established during Cory’s term as president.

“Sa PCGG, natapos na ba ’yung trabaho nila? Noong panahon ko, mayroon pa ring mga nare-recover, mayroon pa ring mga hinahabol na aminado. Hindi pa rin tayo natatapos dahil sa totoo lang, hindi tayo sigurado kung may isang taong buhay na alam lahat itong…. lahat ng nire-recover na ito (Has the PCGG finished its job? In my time, we still recovered something; we chased the guilty. We have not finished the job, because in reality, we are not sure if there’s one person alive who knows it all… all of it that we’re trying to recover.) Aquino said.

“Hindi pa natin masasabi na nasagad ng CHR yung dapat niyang trabaho at habang buhay ang tao at ‘yong pangangailangan na pangalagaan ‘yong karapatang pantao, pupwede ba nating buwagin ang isang ahensya na siyang nangangalaga nito?

Hanggang hindi natin naaabot yung perpektong lipunan, sa tingin ko may pangangailangan sa isang Commission on Human Rights (We cannot say that the CHR has fully maximized its functions and as long as people are living and the need to protect human rights is there, is it right to abolish an agency which takes care of all these issues? Until we reach a perfect society, I think we need the Commission on Human Rights),” said the former president.

Even the deaths of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynalo Parojinog, who was included in the drugs watch list of Duterte, and 14 others also need to be investigated, he said.

“Nasa Saligang Batas na pangalagaan ang bawat mamamayan. At sinasabi doon sa konstitusyon, lahat ng mamamayan. So lahat ng mga namatay kung ano man ang dahilan dapat magkaroon ng resolusyon (It is included in the laws that the government should take care of the people. It was written, all of the people. So all of the cases of those who died whatever the reason maybe should have a resolution),” Aquino said.