MANILA -- (UPDATED) President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday issued a warning to his critics who continue to question the administration’s reform agenda and refuse to acknowledge the country’s economic gains.
In a speech before the Philippine Military Academy Sinaglahi Class of 2015’s commencement exercises in Baguio, Aquino said: “It is clear that only those who play blind and deaf are the only ones who do not feel the changes in our society.”
He reminded those “on the other side of the reform agenda” that the government is willing to dialogue with them.
He warned them, however, “kung patuloy na ilalagay sa peligro ang sambayanan, hindi kami mag-aatubiling sagasaan kayo (if you continue to put the country in the line of danger, we will not hesitate to crush you).”
He stressed that he got his mandate from the Filipinos to lead the country, “and only the people can pursue the reforms” after he steps down.
However, he acknowledged that he alone did not provide for those changes, but alongside “all decent Filipinos.”
“Now that my mandate is soon to end, we continue to receive questions: Who will continue my legacy when I step down? Why don’t I just continue my term?” he asked.
However, he said going beyond his term will be a dangerous precedent. “When time comes, he or she might think that there is no problem with staying in power for life,” he said.
Aquino also boasted of the gains introduced by his government, saying he will ensure that the "straight path" will become a well trodden straight path."
With Aquino were a few of his Cabinet officials, including Vice President Jejomar Binay, one of the frontrunners in the 2016 elections.
Despite his strong words, Aquino did not touch on the Mamasapano issue. The Board of Inquiry said last week he did not follow the chain of command in the operations against a high value target, resulting in a fatal blow to the Special Action Force troopers.
Meanwhile, Aquino lauded the PMA Class of 2015, saying it chose its name well.
He told the PMA graduates to follow the lead of 2nd Lt. Jerson Sanchez, who, despite having only graduated last year, already showed expertise in the field.
Sanchez led a platoon that was able to survive an encounter with members of the New People’s Army in Sarangani back in February. The platoon was able to neutralize seven NPA rebels, mostly ranking leaders.
Aquino gave Sanchez the “Distinguished Conduct Star” in lieu of a promotion, which is still not possible at this early stage in his career.
“At kung ang bawat isa sa inyo sa Sinaglahi ay maninindigan at gagamitin ang inyong angking galing at lakas upang tumbasan o higitan ang nagawa ng mga nauna sa inyo, maipapamana natin sa susunod na henerasyon ang isang bayang di hamak na mas maganda kaysa ating dinatnan,” Aquino told the graduates.