MANILA, Philippines - It was strike 2 against Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday.
A day after President Benigno Aquino III took a swipe at Marcos Jr.'s comment on the country losing the chance of becoming "another Singapore", the current president said the country could have actually been "another Libya."
“We were far from becoming another Singapore. Were it not for EDSA, we probably could have become another Libya,” said Aquino during the People Power awarding ceremony in Malacañang Palace’s Ceremonial Hall.
Marcos Jr. made the "Singapore" comment days before the Philippines celebrated the 25th anniversary of EDSA 1, a peaceful people power that led to fate-changing events in the lives of two politicians: 20-year dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted while slain politician's housewife, Corazon Aquino, became the new leader of the country.
Now, these fathers' only sons and namesakes -- Marcos Jr. and Aquino III -- are comparing what countries to model what the Philippines could have become.
“With respect, I do not think we would have become another Singapore had we stayed the course with [former President Ferdinand] Marcos,” said Aquino.
He explained that during the martial law years, inequality worsened and freedom of expression was curtailed.
The president said it has become convenient for some circles to criticize the unfulfilled promises of EDSA People Power 1.
“Some have even dared to say that maybe one-man rule was not such a bad idea, never mind the oppression, and never mind the lack of liberties. By now, some say, we could already have become another Singapore. The 'some' is just one,” Aquino said, alluding to Sen. Marcos.
Sen. Marcos on Tuesday said the Philippines would have been like Singapore, one of Asia's Tiger economies, if the plans of his father pushed through. He said among these plans are massive industrialization and infrastructure development.
"The reason I said that is because I saw the plans. I knew what the government had planned to do. Had those plans been fulfilled, then we would have been equal, at least economically, with all the so-called Tiger economies," Sen. Marcos said.
Slowly fulfilling EDSA’s promises
Aquino, meanwhile, said the government is slowly working on fulfilling the promises of EDSA People Power 1 despite meeting some opposition.
The president said they have reduced the excessive perks for those in government-owned-and-controlled corporations (GOCCs). He added that they have also imposed restrictions on commercial logging to preserve the country’s ecological environment.
Aquino also said they also took action against the plea bargain in the case of former Armed Forces of the Philippines Comptroller, General Carlos Garcia, which “would have made a mockery of our justice system”.
“These are the things that will eventually fulfill the promise of EDSA, and it is imperative that we, like those that flooded the streets in February 1986, persevere so that these things are achieved at the soonest time possible,” said the president.
Meantime, the Aquino government is hard-pressed to evacuate Filipinos caught in the ongoing political turmoil in Libya with millions of protesters calling for the ouster of their long-time President Moammar Gadhafi.
The Libya is host to some 26,000 overseas Filipino workers, with some employers abandoning projects in the oil-rich country as terrified residents braced for bloody battles after a night of gunfire in some cities. Witnesses in Libya's third city Misrata reported helicopter-borne mercenaries opening fire on the local radio station and on mourners burying victims of previous clashes in Tripoli.
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi said he was ready to arm civilian supporters to defeat a popular revolt.