Several Duterte supporters, pro-Duterte Facebook support pages, and blogs brought up the fact that Senator Bam Aquino visited Marawi City days before the clash between the government troops and members of the Maute group.
Facebook user Maharlika, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters, asked if dealing with terrorists is one of the agenda of Sen. Aquino’s visit in Marawi City, where he opened a “negosyo center.”
“Tatlong araw bago ang pang gugulo ng mga terorista sa Marawi, pumunta pala doon si Bam Aquino para sa pagbukas ng negosyo center doon. Ang tanong? Kasama kaya ang pakikipag negosyo niya sa mga terorista?” Maharlika wrote on Facebook on May 24, with a screenshot of Aquino’s May 21 post describing his visit to Marawi City.
Another Facebook user also asked if Aquino had a “meeting with the Maute Rebels before the Marawi City attack?” He also insinuated that the senator even changed escorts from Iligan City to Marawi City and reminded his followers that the former Senator Ninoy Aquino was one of the founders of CPP-NPA.
Other pro-Duterte support pages on Facebook echoed the same question. These include pages such as “Pres. Duterte ang Agila ng Davao,” “Duterte Tapang at Malasakit 2017,”Rodrigo Duterte News,” “Hi Duterte,” “PRRD News,” “Pres. Rody Duterte Worldwide Supporters,” “Dugong Maharlika,” “Duterte News Global,” and more. These pages’ posts have already gained thousands of shares.
Blog posts about Aquino’s suspected link to the terrorists in Marawi City went viral.
On May 25, Sen. Aquino’s official Facebook page posted that he did visit Marawi City last week to open the 508th Negosyo Center in the country and the first one in the ARMM.
In that same post, Facebook user JC Perez asked if the rumors are true about how Aquino changed security escorts going to Marawi City and if he met other groups aside from the Go Negosyo people.
The handler of the senator’s account then replied, “Hi JC, Sen. Bam had AFP escort althroughout the trip, they never left his side. But the PNP was changed from PNP Iligan to PNP ARMM at the border, which is standard protocol when entering a new territory or jurisdiction. Please don’t believe the false news going around. The Marawi crisis should not be used for partisan politics. We need to unite for our country. [Team Bam]”
However, the Department of Trade and Industry came to Sen. Aquino’s defense against the “false news and reports.”
“The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) would just like to state the fact that Sen. Bam Aquino, along with our stakeholders in the military, the business sector and the local government, were in Marawi to attend the launch of ARMM’s first Negosyo Center in Marawi, the 508th Negosyo Center in the country,” said DTI in a Facebook Note.
DTI noted how Aquino is the author of the Go Negosyo Law.
“Sen. Bam is the author of the Go Negosyo Law that directed the DTI to establish Negosyo Centers in all municipalities, to give micro and small entrepreneurs access to entrepreneurship education, mentorship, money and market.”
DTI called the spread of misinformation about Aquino’s visit to Marawi “unfortunate” and urged everyone not to spread lies and conspiracies that may only worsen the situation.
“It is unfortunate that his visit is now the subject of false news and reports. We call on our countrymen, during this time in crisis, not resort to spreading lies and conspiracies as these may worsen the situation,” DTI said.
“Sen. Bam has been our partner in empowering the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector for years, from his time as a social entrepreneur until he was elected senator,” DTI wrote.
DTI also encouraged everyone to “unite” for the Philippines and against common enemies, while expressing their thoughts and prayers for the Philippine soldiers fighting the terrorists in Marawi City.
Facebook user Apple Allison, who disclosed that she is indeed a supporter of the senator, said that it doesn’t make sense for Aquino to visit Marawi City and meet with the “rebels” without even doing it discreetly, seeing as how he even dined out and had his pictures taken.
“Come on Facebook people!!! Really?!!! Why can’t we set aside politics and work as one for our nation! Tama na muna ang mga “drawing” at “coloring” na yan!” Allison wrote.
“Hayyyy nakakaloka!!! My point is, ang bobo naman ni Bam if pumunta sya ng Mindanao at makikipagmeeting sya sa mga rebelde tapos hindi man lang discreet, tapos may gana pang mag dine out and allow photo ops!!! Kung ako kasi sya, if may ganoon talagang meeting eh para akong si Joaquin at Verna, un sa hideout nalang magmemeeting at hindi magpapakita in any public place,” Allison added.
Sen. Aquino released a statement about the clash in Marawi City, urging people to set politics aside and focus on the safety and welfare of the affected residents in Marawi.
“Right now, ang pinakamahalaga po ngayon ay matigil na itong bakbakan, masugpo ang teroristang grupo at maprotektahan ang ating mga kababayan,” said Sen. Aquino on the declaration of Martial Law.
He also called the situation in Marawi city “heartbreaking.”
“Everybody was so hopeful na ang pagtulak ng pagnenegosyo at trabaho, could really lead to peace. Kaya talagang heartbreaking itong nangyayarin ito,” he added.
“Iyong mga kasama namin na militar, negosyante at local government officials, lahat nagsabi na ang pagtutulak ng mas magagandang trabaho at pagkakataong magnegosyo sa mga kapatid nating Muslim will eventually lead to peace,” said Aquino.
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