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Philippine President Aquino in Time magazine's 100 most influential 2013

Time magazine has selected President Aquino as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2013 for his role in “stabilizing and invigorating” the Philippine economy, the presidential palace said on Friday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino was also recognized for his leadership in pushing vital legislation on population control and his courage in asserting Philippine sovereignty in the territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“I feel honored. But at the same time, this reminds us that while we have achieved so much, we were not able to do all these alone. It is clear to me that we achieved much because of the support of the Filipino people,” Aquino told reporters.

The Time 100 list has five categories: titans, leaders, artists, pioneers and icons. President Aquino is in this year’s “leaders” list together with US President Barrack Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-Hae and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Philippines is one of the emerging markets in the world and has been dubbed as Asia’s Tiger economy. In the past several months, relations were tense between the Philippines and China because of territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea.

But opposition lawmakers said contrary to Time Magazine’s claim, Aquino’s response to China’s bullying was weak and being his being “a US lacky was not something to be proud of.”

The Time Magazine citation was America’s way of courting President Aquino to allow the return of the US bases in the Philippines because of its strategic location in Asia, the opposition lawmakers said.

“The beloved president, a.k.a. Number one lackey of US in Asia is being made to believe he can take on a giant like China and to soften him up and consider a constitutional violation like allowing US bases in the Philippines again,” Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said.

“Identifying Aquino as influential is a tragi-comedy. Funny but with potentially tragic consequencies for the Philippines,” Ilagan said.

“No, we are not at all impressed. The President and the US are just laying the predicate for the return of the US bases. The US Pacific pivot is not our war to wage,” Kabataan president Terry Ridon said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said lawmakers have been asking the president to bring the issue to the international courts, but he preferred the advice of the US despite the strong legal and historial claim of the Philippines over the area.

“President Aquino listened to America rather than his own people. Bringing the case to international courts would be the most peaceful and diplomatic way to settle the dispute, and it will stop the bullying from China because the international community would condemn any saber-rattling or aggression coming from China,” Colmenares ssaid. Joyce Panares with Christine Herrera

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