Philippine Daily Inquirer

P-Noy: All it’ll take is for one man to undo it all

- By Nikko Dizon

ANTIPOLO CITY—President Aquino on Friday said he did not work hard to earn the respect of other nations only to have one man undo the diplomatic ties with a few thoughtles­s words.

It was an obvious swipe at presidenti­al candidate Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking Davao City mayor who recently said that should he be elected president, he would not hesitate to cut ties with the United States and Australia for calling him out for a remark he made about rape.

“You know, there is a candidate who supposedly said ‘severing ties,’” Mr. Aquino told the crowd at Sumulong Park here in Filipino.

“I worked hard to earn the respect of other countries, for us to have good friends, allies, such that when we are bullied by a giant, we can turn to an ally who is a giant as well—(an ally) who will allow us to live our lives,” he said, alluding to recent events involving China and the United States.

“And all this would be lost with just one or two words,” he added.

The President said it was up to the voters to make their choice on May 9.

“We will applaud if we make the right decision; or we will weep in the end if we make a mistake,” he said.

On Thursday, the President told the media he did not agree with most of Duterte’s statements.

In speeches around the country, Aquino narrates to the audience how at the beginning of his administra­tion in 2010, he and his Cabinet felt the low regard foreigners—government officials and businessme­n alike—had for the Philippine­s and Filipinos.

One time, the President said, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima was at a global finance ministers meeting and no one spoke to him. Finally, at the end of the meeting, someone approached Purisima, who thought the man would discuss Philippine affairs with him. In- stead, the man merely asked if the empty seat beside Purisima was taken.

In another instance, Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, when he was Calbayog City mayor, was invited to speak at an internatio­nal gathering. At the immigratio­n line, Sarmiento noticed the immigratio­n officer stamp the passports of the delegates from Japan and Singapore without any question, even doing so with a warm welcome.

When his turn came, Sarmiento said the officer asked the purpose of his visit and for a copy of his invitation to the event.

Mr. Aquino also recalled that his fellow leaders in Southeast Asia did not immediatel­y warm up to him in the first years of his presidency. Two of them, he said, even lectured him on what the Philippine­s should do to grow and develop.

“I didn’t have anything to show at the time so I just swallowed my pride. But that was then. It’s different now,” he said.

Last week, Duterte lambasted US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely for “meddling” in local politics after the diplomats said rape was not an issue to be joked about.

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