“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Nelson Mandela
By Alex P. Vidal
Was it a mistake to pick on Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco for a foe in politics?
Or is Syjuco the easiest whipping boy among all the minions identified with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?
Ever since President Benigno Aquino III singled out former TESDA chief Augusto Syjuco, Jr. for overpriced procurement in his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22, 2013, the former congressman from the second district of Iloilo has become one of his fiercest critics.
And Syjuco, who lost to Senate President Franklin Drilon’s best friend, Arcadio H. Gorriceta, in the 2013 Iloilo congressional elections, bites.
Like a wounded tiger, Syjuco is always ready to engage the President in a no-holds-barred tussle especially on the pork barrel issue.
With nothing to lose now that his reputation has been besmirched in the SONA, Syjuco is like Dick Tiger willing to fight in any arena as long as he is paired against President Aquino.
Each time he fires a volley against the president, vengeance is written all over his face.
Shortly after delivering his 5th SONA last July 28, President Aquino immediately received a bombastic reply from Syjuco, who can easily attract attention from reporters every time he fired a sally against the President.
Syjuco fired: “You seemed to fall into the right track when you said ‘in spite of this, my resolve is firm because my primary goal is clear: to return government to its original mandate-to serve the Filipino always.”
He added: “Here, you unequivocally admitted that you had wrongly strayed the course of your last four years and that you would ‘return the government to its rightful mandate.”
Syjuco, also former head of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, scored Mr. Aquino for exaggerating his accomplishment.
In his 5th SONA, Mr. Aquino cited the Training for Work Scholarship Program, which managed to produce 146,731 graduates while the rest of the 223,615 still undergoing training. The program got P1.6 billion share from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Syjuco claimed he founded the Training for Work Scholarship Program and in 2009 they have produced over 1.6 million graduates.
“Your graduates that you brag about now are only less than 13 percent of our graduates on the last year of your previous administration,” Syjuco further fired at the President.
The P7,155 that the President boasted to have spent for every Tesda beneficiary is high considering that in Syjuco’s time, they only spent P5,000, insisted Syjuco, who lost twice for mayor of Makati to Vice President Jejomar Binay, before becoming a congressman in the second district of Iloilo in 1998.
Syjuco stressed that they only paid the schools and training centers when the scholar trainee successfully passes the Tesda Certification Exam.
“And for this, Mang Noy (President Aquino) blamed me for overspending,” boomed Syjuco, the first to file a petition with the high court against DAP.
The problem is nobody in Malacanang is taking Syjuco seriously. The Palace did not even reply to Syjuco’s media tirades as it did against the tirades of the opposition.
Whether he will succeed in trying to reverse public opinion to tilt on his favor, Syjuco is now fast gaining a national fame.
He can be a tough opposition firebrand once he is elected as senator in 2016 or tapped as spokesperson of the opposition now headed by his former foe and future presidential timber, Jojo Binay.