‘Happy anniversary’

It was a gaffe anyone could have made. But when presidential candidate Mar Roxas sent a “happy anniversary” message to the people of Zamboanga  to mark the September 2013  bloody siege by Moro National Liberation Front rebels, he can only draw flak for the blooper.

More than 200 civilians died and hundreds of homes were razed during three weeks of heavy fighting between government troops and Nur-Misuari’s MNLF forces who attempted to take over Zamboanga City. It was certainly not a happy occasion for the people of Zamboanga.

The message posted on Roxas’ Facebook site was quickly corrected but as with anything posted on social media, it was too late and the damage was done. It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Add this to Mar’s mindless “you have to remember the President is an Aquino and you’re a Romualdez” remark to Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez during relief operation for typhoon Yolanda victims, and you will have to ask whether you want this man to lead the country.

Recalling the Roxas remark to Romualdez also brings to mind President Aquino’s callous “O, eh buhay ka pa naman” admonition to a Yolanda survivor who complained about the slow pace of rescue and relief operation. The man eventually died a few months ago. It is not known whether he died from natural causes or due to  the public rebuke he got from Aquino.

This administration’s insensitivity to the people’s suffering was also shown by Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya’s reaction to Metro Manila’s traffic problem when he said “hindi naman nakakamatay ang traffic” [traffic is not fatal]. Someone wrote to ask “what if Abaya was being rushed to a hospital and the ambulance got caught in traffic?” Stressed by the flak he received on social media, Abaya later on apologized for the remark.

Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, in a case of poetic justice, experienced being caught in traffic and was an hour late for a TV interview. He should have gotten off his vehicle and directed traffic himself like he did in a cheap publicity stunt to advance his senatorial campaign. 

We do not relish seeing public officials spouting such stupid statements, but they themselves provide the wellspring of these quotable lines. It is said the rich are born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, but in the case of Aquino, Roxas and Abaya, it must have been a foot instead.

Then there is also Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who, when asked if it’s true he executed 1,000 criminals, replied:“ Only 1,000? Ang cheap naman!” Since Duterte said he’s not running for president anymore, the next administration should appoint him director of the Bureau of Corrections to put in place a de facto death penalty. That should put the fear of God in the hearts of hardened criminals.

Has the 2016 presidential race narrowed down to Roxas Jejomar Binay, and Grace Poe ? If so, then voters’ choice has also narrowed down and left them with little or no choice at all. The deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy is on Oct. 16. We might yet see a wild card with Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. joining the race. The senator has been in the news lately with his handling of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Combining  the Solid North bloc and vote-rich  Mindanao where Bongbong Marcos gained supporters for including all the stakeholders in the proposed BBL , he could give Poe, Binay and Roxas a run for their money.

The next Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia survey should be interesting

We have a Secretary of Agriculture and a Presidential Assistant on Food Security and yet the country is still importing 750,000 metric tons of rice this year and another 500,000 MT next year. The importation is purportedly to prepare for a prolonged El Niño dry spell, the state-run National Food Authority said. The Aquino administration had five years to increase rice productivity but importing the basic commodity must be more profitable for the NFA.

With less than 300 days left in the Aquino administration, expect some Cabinet members like Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala , DOTC Secretary Abaya, Budget Secretary Butch Abad to seek refuge in an elective office. Abad might run in his province of Batanes to replace his wife Henedina  who is the current representative. Alcala could try to regain his former congressional seat in Quezon, while Abaya, a former Cavite congressman, might go back to reclaim his House seat.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal, meanwhile, held a closed-door hearing  yesterday to assess evidence on the citizenship disqualification case against Senator Poe. On Sept. 21, the SET will hear the oral arguments of defeated senatorial candidate Rizalito David and Senator Poe whose presidential bid and even Senate seat hang in the balance if the issue is put to a vote.

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