President Benigno Aquino has apparently emerged as a campaigner for rivals of Mar Roxas in the 2016 presidential derby.
In his speech in Rome, Aquino further alienated Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) from Roxas, the standard bearer of the ruling Liberal Party who is already facing a potential ` boycott by Pinoy migrant workers.
Instead of tackling the plight of the overseas workers, Aquino, in the December 4 speech before about 500 OFWs at the Ergife Palace Hotel, campaigned for Roxas and skewered rivals of his former Interior secretary.
The campaign pitch did not sit well with the crowd that expected Aquino to speak on government policies on overseas workers, and drew varied reactions foremost of which is against Aquino’s apparent preference for politicking than the plight of the OFWs.
The Aquino stunt could further seal the political doom of Roxas, who had earlier been crucified by OFWs over the “Laglag-Bala” scandal in Philippine airports which also victimized overseas workers.
The militant group Migrante which is espousing rights of OFWs, had scored the Aquino government for the extortion by airport personnel who drop bullets into baggage of airplane passengers.
Roxas, also a former secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) which has over-all control of Philippine airports, defended the Aquino administration by saying that government should not be faulted if OFWs are caught with bullets in their luggage.
Migrante reacted strongly to the Roxas statement with a threat It would mobilize OFWs against Roxas’ presidential bid.
Roxas was unfazed by the threat saying he does not need the OFW vote to win the election. Of the 54 million voters registered for the 2016 national elections, about 2.4 million are OFWs who are allowed to participate in the election.
Simple logic tells us that if the OFWs are not for Roxas they could go to Duterte, Binay, Poe or Santiago.
By now, the Aquino campaign speech in Rome that shoved concerns of the OFWs to the sideline, could have already reverberated in the 180,000-strong Dilipino community in Italy and the millions of Pinoy overseas workers spread in many countries around the world and their relatives in the Philippines.
If Roxas earned a tsunami of condemnation from OFWs worldwide for saying he does not need their votes, we expect another crucifixion for the Aquino candidate, with OFWs reacting stronger this time coupling their anger with burial hymns for the Roxas presidential bid.
The over-all frustration at the Aquino speech was vocalized by Liza Bueno, among the OFWs who attended the event, a side event during Aquino’s state visit to the Vatican.
“I did not hear any agenda related to OFWs. I am not yet convinced that I should vote for Roxas,” she said in a report in Philippine Star.
As a leader, he should be fair, said Bueno referring to Aquino’s endorsement of Roxas and his verbal assaults against the rivals of his pet candidate.
In his speech, Aquino made a shallow attempt to hide his politicking by not naming Roxas or presidential candidates Vice President Jejomar Binay of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP), independent candidate Senator Grace Poe and Senator Miriam Santiago.
“We dreamed and now our dreams came true. Are we going to hold back? We already have a companion who joined us and worked with us to transform our country, said Aquino clearly referring to Roxas.
“Why would we rely on those who only deliver promises? Aquino asked before dishing out verbal missiles at Roxas’ rivals.
No context, no plan, just criticism and half-baked promises, said Aquino of Poe. Poe has been leading in pre-poll surveys for presidential preference but his candidacy is imperiled by a disqualification case before the Commission on Election (Comelec) involving her questionable residency and citizenship.
He would kill many people if elected President, he blasted Duterte who is campaigning on an iron-fist anti-crime platform.
Aquino also said a candidate is accused of stealing people’s money alluding to Binay, who is facing corruption charges before the Ombudsman.
He also twitted Santiago who has been getting strong support in social media. “She is not aware that you cannot build roads or feed the hungry using only Facebook,” Aquino said.
Aquino’s caper that has drawn a critical chasm between the 2.4 million-strong OFWs and the Roxas presidential bid is the latest fumbling act that could further strengthen Roxas’ franchise over the bottom of poll surveys.
Roxas has consistenly dominated the cellar of all surveys by Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia.