MANILA – The acknowledgment by the public of the reforms instituted under the Aquino administration could be one of the gifts for President Benigno Aquino III, who celebrates his birthday today, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda said the president, who turns 55 today, will celebrate his birthday in a simple manner with his family, just like what he did in the past.
''Whether in times good or bad, the President has always celebrated his birthday simply and with his family, so pareho lang 'yon-simpleng celebration, pag-alala sa kanyang birthday. So I would… I see no reason why the President would deviate. It will be a simple celebration-birthday celebration with his family,'' Lacierda said.
Lacierda said Aquino needs prayer in these trying times, as the administration is beset by problems in the wake of the botched Mamasapano raid - which targeted Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan - last January 25.
''It gives him strength, and knowing that situations are difficult now, we thank the many Filipinos who continue to pray for the President. And ilang araw na lang, we pray that his-that people will also recognize that the President has been sowing the seeds of institutional reform. He has started it five years ago,'' Lacierda said.
''Hopefully, all this will continue to flourish and to grow, and 'yun lang naman siguro ang… Siguro ang gift natin kay Pangulong Aquino is that we abide and we remember the reforms that he has started kasi these reforms will go beyond 2016. So we ask the Filipino people to trust in the President, to trust in the reforms that he has made, and he will not let us down. He will always do the right thing."
Calls for the president to step down have been mounting following the death of 44 elite police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao during a clash with fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is currently in peace talks with the government and was supposed to observe a ceasefire.
Last Friday, Aquino confirmed the resignation of his close friend, Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, in the wake of the botched raid that has threatened to derail the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a key legislative piece which the president hopes to leave as a legacy.
Aquino admitted it pains him to see Purisima leave his post in this manner. Nonetheless, the president vowed to pursue the fight against terrorism.