By Lenn Almadin Thornhill, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Sept. 24, 2014
NEW YORK – In his speeches here in the U.S., President Benigno Aquino III would repeatedly talk about the Philippines’ painful past, especially during the Marcos dictatorship.
It was no wonder why he answered this way when he was asked last night about the Marcos’ family’s long time wish for former Marcos to be buried in the Heroes Cemetery in the Philippines.
“Wala sa kakayahan kong ipaliwanag sa taumbayan kung bakit dapat siyang bigyan ng ganoong karangalan,” said President Aquino.
There are still questions surrounding Marcos’ military past and the way he extended martial law in the country.
Aquino is headed back to the Philippines today after a four day visit to the U.S.
But before he left New York, Filipino-American activists from Anakbayan and Gabriela staged protests outside Columbia University where he spoke.
They say Aquino has failed in protecting the Filipino people from natural disasters, particularly from Super Typhoon Yolanda, which claimed more than 6,000 lives last year.
Efleda Bautista is a typhoon victim from Tacloban who came to New York for the Climate Change Summit at the U.N. where Aquino spoke.
“I really feel sad about his coming here,” said Bautista. “We don’t see any benefit that the Filipino people will get from the visit here.”
The call for answers from these groups of protesters continued inside the forum where he was even heckled during a Q&A with the media.
These activists were escorted out by the police but no one was arrested.
“I look up to your mother. I am a Filipino woman and I saw her as a hero – a modern-day hero for me,” said one protester, “And what do you do? You want a charter change to extend your presidency? I looked up to her as a hero and now I see the realities of what your family has done. I have been to Hacienda Luisita.”
Aquino decided to shrug it off.
“Sanay naman tayo doon, in the guise of magtatanong, nagtatalumpati, naghahanap gumawa ng eksena,” said Aquino.
Aquino arrives in the Philippines Thursday night.