MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III spoke before the Filipino community in Sydney on the last day of his state visit to Australia.
Aside from updating them on his accomplishments and developments back home, Aquino also gave a fearless forecast.
“Ngayon may nakasampa na sa kanyang (ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona) kaso na tax evasion. Kung mapapatunayan na nagkasala, baka po mag-abot pa sila sa kulungan ng pinalitan nating Pangulo,” Aquino said.
He cited the conviction of Corona in the impeachment court, and the filing of a tax evasion case against him as an example of how justice has caught up with the powerful.
“Nasampahan na rin po ang dating Pangulo (Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) ng mga kasong plunder at electoral sabotage at abangan ang susunod na kabanata," he added.
He again blasted the Arroyo administration for, among others, its Tulay ng Pangulo project where bridges were produced without first identifying the place for which these bridges were intended.
“Paggawa muna tayo ng tulay, hanapan natin kung saan isu-shoot. Kung si Dolphy ho ang gumawa nun baka matawa tayo. Pero si Dolphy ho matinong tao. Gobyerno po ang gumawa nito e,” he said.
He questioned the Arroyo administration for approving a contract under the project two days before he was inaugurated as President in 2010.
“Ang masaklap pa po n'yan, pinrimahan nila ang isa sa mga kontratang ito June 28, 2010. Bakit ho importante ang petsang 'to? Kasi tanghali po ng June 30, 2010, ako na po ang Pangulo. Sila ho ang magbabaon, ako ho ang aahon. Wala po talagang patawad. Isa't kalahating araw na lang sila sa pwesto, hindi pa rin sila makapagpigil sa paggawa ng anomalya. One and half days to go, humirit pa,” he said.
He said these cases of abuse have forced Filipinos to leave the country.
But he says things are different now under his administration, and the changes were made possible because of the Filipino people's faith.
He added that the task is not yet over, urging Filipinos to continue their commitment for change.
As a sign of appreciation, the Filipino community gave Aquino an akubra, an Australian hat.
Aquino also led the unveiling of Jose Rizal's statue at Campbelltown, New South Wales, home to around 5,000 Filipino-Australians.
The statue, sculpted and donated by Eduardo Castrillo, depicts Rizal during his stay in Europe, holding his first novel, Noli Me Tangere with a hand readying for an approaching storm.
A day after describing the President as a phenomenon, New South Wales Premier Barry O' Farrell said, Aquino shares some similarities with Rizal.
“As I read your own biography, I couldn't help but see some similarities. Similarities about two men who were driven by social issues facing their countrymen, two men who determined through peaceful means to deliver the change to their countrymen; two men who understood the power of words; Jose Rizal through the power of the written word, and of course, you sir, through the power of the spoken word--something that doesn't always come easy to politicians but something that is essential to our armory. The other great similarity between you both is, of course, your patriotism,” said O’Farrell.
Enrique "Iking" Reyes, great grandson of Rizal's sister Saturnina, was present at the unveiling of the statue.