MANILA - President Aquino wants to ignore the critics as part of his New Year’s resolution.
In a forum with Grade 11 students from Miriam College High School, Aquino said devoting time to critics, whom he described as “hopeless,” distracts him from focusing on the job at hand.
"We have a cottage industry already of people who make a living criticizing me. And it [distracts me] from solving the problems of this country if I have to attend to them… Walang makitang maganda sa sasabihin mo," Aquino said.
Aquino cited the calls for Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to resign after he failed to deliver on a promise to bring back electricity to all towns affected by typhoon “Yolanda.”
Aquino defended Petilla, saying he should still be given an “A” mark for hitting 99 percent of the target.
"Over 99 percent of the task, 3 out of 320 [towns] ang na-late not even by 24 hours and there were people who were calling on him to resign. So ‘yung mga ‘yun, next time na magsasalita ulit itong mga ‘to, bakit ko pa pagtitiyagaan na talagang sobrang unreasonable na habang inaasikaso ko sila, hindi ko inaasikaso ang problema ng bayan. So that has to be another resolution: Ignore the people who are hopeless,” he said.
Aquino also vowed to give less pressure to his Cabinet members, saying he felt guilty when he started calling up some Cabinet members on January 1 for work-related matters.
“I like to apologize to the Cabinet members. I started working on January 1. Para bang talagang pinalampas ko lang ang New Year’s eve. Parang noon ata, I started calling Leila de Lima and so many others. Of course, they had to respond to me ‘cause I’m the head of the executive department. Afterwards, na-guilty ako. Itong mga ngayon lang nagpahinga… nate-tense kaya ‘tong mga ‘to ‘pag babalik na ako? ‘Yun bang ilan kaya sila nag-iisip na sana wala akong dyaryong tangan or iniwan ko ang cellphone ko para hindi mag-follow up ng kung anu-ano,” he said.
“The Cabinet is very hardworking, they’re very dedicated. You can’t ask anything more of them and perhaps I should learn to give them a little bit more breathing room. Baka naman ma-burn out lahat itong mga kasamahan natin sa gobyerno who actually do everything out of love of country. They can go into the private sector and really make tons and tons of money and have less controversies in their life and have a more peaceful life. But they chose to make a contribution at this point in time. So I really thank them from the bottom of my heart.'
“’Yung mga nagmamalasakit sa bansa, tumutulong sa akin. Baka naman dapat ay mas alalayan ko talaga kaysa i-pressure ko,” he said.
In speaking about what he does on a day-to-day basis, Aquino said he starts the day by reading the papers.
He added that he does not watch the TV or listen to the radio, saying commentators tend to have an “agenda.”
"I don’t listen to the radio. I don’t watch TV. I look at the newspapers so I can digest the news in the sequence that I want and perhaps try to get it as unembellished as possible. When you listen to the radio, somebody starts out with an agenda right away and colors the reporting of the news. So you view is colored right away by whatever the columnist, the commentator has," he said.
"Then, it’s basically like you, a lot of study everyday. We have numerous meetings stretching from morning to sometimes morning, including Saturdays and Sundays on things that cannot wait."
MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
In front of a sea of students from an all-girls school, Aquino declined to answer who he considers as the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.
“Dangerous question,” quipped Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras who moderated the forum.
Aquino opted not answer, saying he does not want to offend anyone who would not make hit cut.
“Pwedeng mag-pass na lang doon sa question na ‘yan? Why I want to pass? The last time I judged a beauty contest was in the late 80s. What happened was syempre ‘di ba beauty contest, eventually there’s a titlist, the winner and then there were 14 others who almost made it. So the one who won, syempre smiles. Everybody in her entourage sobrang tuwa. And everybody who’s a runner up looks at you with menacing eyes and wants to kill you. Sabi ko mahirap yata ‘to a. Merong isang natuwa sa ‘yo, labing apat ang galit sa ‘yo,” he said.
“And now I am very careful when I answer things like that. There might be somebody who’s pleased and there are a lot of others who will get angry and I want to try to get a consensus on everything. So if you don’t mind, can I just pass on that [question]. Mukhang there’s no good answer for that question.”
Aquino admitted having dates from Miriam, formerly known as Maryknoll, when he was still a student from Ateneo High School.
“We had a lot of friends, dati ano e, dates pero Maryknoll pa noon e,” Aquino said, eliciting teasing from the audience.
“The President was very cool when he was in high school. There were many girls across the bridge, if you know what I mean, that had a crush on the President,” Almendras said, referring to a bridgeway that links the Ateneo and Miriam campuses.
“But he was very serious, wala ho siyang pinansin sa mga ‘yun,” Almendras said.
Aquino was also asked how government can ensure that donations actually go to survivors of typhoon Yolanda, about government programs for indigenous people, his favorite subject in school (history), and sports (volleyball).
He also said he does practical shooting once a week.
He was also asked about how government could generate jobs given the increase in population.
Aquino cited his administration’s program to give skills training and address jobs mismatch, and also stressed the responsibilities of parents to provide for their children.
“We also embarked on a campaign doon sa reproductive health. Basically, what we’re saying lang is you’re a parent, you bring in children into this world, you have responsibilities. Ensure that, ano ba ‘yung responsibilities? Clothe them, feed them, educate them,” he said.