SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - People with disabilities shouldn't be angry with President Aquino for making a joke about Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's use of a wheelchair. In fact, the President said it should be the other way around.
People with disabilities, he said, should vent their ire not at him but at those who have used the wheelchair not because they are ill but to escape accountability.
"Ako, I don't think our people will be mad at me. I think they will be mad at those pretending to be ill. And I think they will side with me who will ask those who are pretending to be ill to fess up to the truth, 'di ba, and not pretend they're ill," Aquino told reporters at the sidelines of his state visit to Australia.
Stressing that he was not the author of the joke that he told the Filipino community in New Zealand last Monday, Aquino provided the context of the message: that there are people who misuse the wheelchair even if there is no need for it.
Aquino cracked the joke as he was criticizing his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, for using a wheelchair when she tried to leave the country last year.
"Bakit mo titingnan kung ikaw ay disabled na ikaw ang pinapatamaan? Sinasabi nga dito nakikihalo pa sa inyo na talagang may kapansanan 'yung taong wala," he said.
"'Nung dumating sa akin 'yung joke na 'yon ang konteksto nito may isang umaangkin na siya'y may karamdaman. Nagulat lang ako dahil 'yung kanyang wheelchair may headdress pa e. Kumbaga, hindi mukhang hiniram; mukhang dala-dala nang maayos bago kinailangang gamitin. So, ulit, baka dapat yata ang isipin ay pinagtatanggol ko pa… 'yung dignidad nitong mga taong tinutugunan 'yung kapansanan nila ay nakikigaya 'yung mga taong hindi… 'Yung parang walang karapatan na ilagay ang sarili niya sa ganoong sitwasyon," he added.