Philippine President: A bomb couldn't stop reform

2014-07-28 17:54
President Benigno Aquino addresses the crowd during a ceremony commemorating the 115th anniversary of the Philippines' independence from foreign rule in Manila. (Jay Directo, AFP)

President Benigno Aquino addresses the crowd during a ceremony commemorating the 115th anniversary of the Philippines' independence from foreign rule in Manila. (Jay Directo, AFP)

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Manila - An emotional Philippine President Benigno Aquino III called his opponents desperate on Monday and expressed confidence that many people will carry on his reforms even if he was stopped by a bomb.

Aquino said in his annual state of the nation address before Congress that he could not avoid thinking somebody may make an attempt on his life because of the kind of people he has crossed in his effort to fight corruption and reform his poor Southeast Asian nation.

Aquino's father, an opposition senator who fought dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was assassinated at Manila's international airport while under military custody in 1983.

The current president was wounded but survived an ambush by restive Filipino troops during a failed 1987 coup attempt against his mother, then-President Corazon Aquino, at the presidential palace.

"I can't avoid to think that because of who we are colliding with, that there may be a time when we climb the stage and it can be the last day. Will somebody succeed in planting a bomb?" he said in his nationally televised speech.

"Will my opponents with dark plots who want to bring us back to the wrong path succeed? Aquino asked, adding that he was confident that even if the time comes when his "second life" ends, many will continue the reforms he has started.

He did not say who he feared could threaten his life.

Effigy burned

Aquino rose to the presidency with a wide margin in 2010 on a promise to fight corruption and poverty.

But problems have persisted in a country where nearly a fourth of its 100 million people remain mired in poverty, and left-wing groups constantly harp on perceived threats to democracy 28 years after a largely non-violent "people power" revolt ousted Marcos.

Under Aquino, his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has been detained on vote-rigging charges, allegations she has denied. Three powerful senators, including a former defence secretary who helped enforce Marcos's 1972 imposition of martial rule, have been detained after being indicted on a charge of economic plunder.

Opponents and left-wing groups have accused Aquino of targeting political rivals but coddling allies linked to corruption. The criticisms grew after the Supreme Court declared recently that Aquino and his budget secretary's enforcement of a major economic stimulus program in 2011 partly violated the constitution.

Aquino strongly criticised the high tribunal and appealed the decision, which prompted left-wing activists to file an impeachment complaint against him.

More than 5 000 left-wing protesters burned his effigy outside the House of Representatives, where he outlined his reforms and projects that have benefited the poor and earned the country an investment grade from major international ratings agencies.

While his reforms succeeded and took root, Aquino said his critics grew desperate and intensified their attacks.

"My bosses, they are working against you," Aquino said, using his term for the Filipino masses. "But I have firm resolve to stand up these opponents because I know there are only a few of them and there are simply so many of us."

- AP
Read more on:    gloria macapagal arroyo  |  benigno aquino iii  |  philippines

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