MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno S. Aquino III played godfather and gave Christmas gifts and Noche Buena packs to about 1,000 underprivileged children at Malacañang’s Kalayaan Grounds as part of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) ‘Pasko ng Batang Pinoy’ program for this year.
‘Pasko ng Batang Pinoy’ is an event held annually by DSWD in collaboration with 17 local government units in Metro Manila to provide street children a venue for self-enhancement through various activities to enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
During the event, President Aquino also found himself quite overwhelmed by the innocent questions of children who took the opportunity to convey their concerns with him on various issues, including personal ones.
President Aquino was asked whether he also went Christmas caroling in the neighborhood when he was a kid. The Chief Executive said he was not able to go through that experience during his boyhood because the country was under Martial Law at the time.
“Noong Martial Law, bawal ‘yung magtipon ng lampas tatlong tao; illegal assembly ang tawag. Nakukulong ‘pag ganoon at saka may curfew,” he explained.
The children requested if the President could sing some Christmas tunes for them this time around, but he politely declined, saying he doesn’t have the voice for it. “Baka mas magaling ‘yung boses niyo kaysa sa boses ko,” he said.
Another boy asked President Aquino whether he also played with firecrackers like ‘watusi’ or ‘piccolo’ during his younger years. He said ‘piccolo’ was not yet invented back then but he did play with ‘watusi’ and a harmless firecracker called ‘sparkler.’
The Chief Executive, however, told the children that he and his playmates played with these firecrackers carefully and always under the supervision of an adult to avoid injuring themselves or other people. The government has an ongoing campaign prohibiting the use of firecrackers, especially the most dangerous and illegal ones, to keep the citizens safe during the holidays.
With respect to cybercrime, President Aquino told the boy who is concerned about his fellow children getting addicted to Facebook and other social media platforms that the Supreme Court is still reviewing the Anti-Cybercrime Law.
On politics, President Aquino reiterated that he no longer plans to seek another term come the 2016 presidential elections. He said he would rather have someone who will continue the reforms his administration implemented to succeed him in office.
“Sa 2016, lalo na, gusto nating mahikayat ang buong sambayanan na siguraduhin ‘yung pagbabagong nangyayari sa atin ngayon maging permanente. Huwag na tayong bumalik sa dating kalakaran. So ‘yun ang pagtutulungan… Tulungan niyo ko, pagtulungan natin na maging permanente ang pagbabago,” he said.
President Aquino, meanwhile, promised one of the kids who got separated from his parents that the government through the DSWD would make an effort to find them. He also said Secretary Corazon Soliman would be around to assist him in his education.
“Pagtulungan natin, subukan nating hanapin ‘yung mga magulang mo. Pero ‘yung pag-aaral, palagay ko kayang-kaya ni Secretary (Corazon) Soliman na masiguradong mapagpatuloy ang pag-aaral mo,” he told the boy.
Two girls also asked for President Aquino to help their fathers. One of them said her father would like to get out from his financial debts and the other said she would like her father to be freed from prison. President Aquino said he would look into the cases of their fathers to see how the government could help them.
The children, in turn, thanked President Aquino for his gifts and for spending time with them. A little girl even gave the Chief Executive a warm embrace, saying that was his special gift for him this Christmas, which President Aquino gladly accepted. (MNS)