MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III said he hopes the Duterte administration will continue a number of reforms he initiated, as he also remains "concerned" about work "left unfinished" during his term.
Aquino made these remarks on Wednesday, June 21, a few days before President Rodrigo Duterte marks his first year in office on June 30.
In a chance interview on Wednesday, Aquino cited reforms during his term, such as his public-private partnership (PPP) program and also improvements in the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The former president, however, voiced concern about the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which has suffered a 4-decade Muslim insurgency, as well as acts of terror.
He mentioned, in particular, the almost month-long clashes between government troops and local terrorists in Marawi City, which have claimed more than 300 lives and forced 300,000 others out of their homes.
When asked how his life is a year after leaving the Palace, Aquino, said, "Siyempre mas kaunti ang problema, pero siyempre concerned ka pa rin." (Of course I have fewer problems, but of course I'm still concerned.)
He said his concerns include "all the things that were, shall we say, left unfinished." He did not elaborate.
"And you're hoping that the directions that we were into, will be continued. Whether it's the PPP, the improvement of services like in PAGASA, and so on and so forth," Aquino added in a mix of English and Filipino.
Concerned about Marawi
"Of course we're concerned about the developments in the ARMM, in particular, in Marawi, specifically. You want to see solutions to that problem happening soon," he added during the interview.
The interview was conducted outside the Manila Cathedral, a few minutes before the Mass for the 60th birthday of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, which Aquino attended.
Aquino, however, declined to comment when asked about his thoughts on martial law in Mindanao and the Marawi crisis. "I'd like to reserve comment until I get a better picture," he said.
He explained that "the only information" he gets for now "is from the media."
Asked to assess Duterte's first year in office, Aquino replied, "I'll reserve comment, until the end of the quiet period."
Aquino earlier said he will avoid commenting on Duterte's leadership within his successor's first year.
Duterte succeeded Aquino after he campaigned on a platform of change. "The vote for Duterte was, in many ways, a protest vote,"