“HE was already there and he have time to visit a gun store to satisfy his hobby. He’s able to satisfy his stomach by going into [McDonalds] but the community was never given any sense to be with the president,” Dr. Orlando Cagampan of Los Angeles told Balitang America Correspondent Steve Angeles.
This was a reaction I heard from a kababayan who felt “snubbed” by President Benigno Aquino III, despite community leaders’ request to have a dialogue with the Philippine president during his five-day visit to the United States to attend the UN Summit in New York.
The President’s snub was even more criticized after reports and even pictures came out that despite of his supposed tight schedule, PNoy made one final stop before getting on his flight back to the Philippines — a visit to Peninsula Guns and Tactical in San Bruno, Calif., which is located less than ten minutes away from San Francisco International Airport. And yes — there was a burger meal he shared with his entourage at the In and Out Burger in Millbrae, also very near the airport.
“I understand he was in town on some other business and that he’s an avid shooter, gun enthusiast, so he asked for a gun store and they picked us,” Jeff Downs of Peninsula Guns told Balitang America Correspondent Rommel Conclara.
It was Jeff Downs WHO assisted the president during his visit to the store. He said Aquino was not looking to purchase any weapons; rather he was looking for gun accessories.
Conclara said in his report that PNoy would not have been able to purchase a weapon at that moment because according to California law, there is a minimum ten day waiting period before one can purchase a gun, even for non-U.S. citizens.
“He was really interested in the EO tech optics for rifles,” said Downs. “I guess it’s really hard to get them in the Philippines, so he was able to get them here. Some of his members of his entourage were able to pick up some stuff too.”
Downs disclosed to Conclara that President Aquino bought optics, a range bag, eye and ear protection, and a safe.
“He spent a decent amount of money,” said Downs. “I don’t think it would be appropriate to say.”
According to Downs, PNoy spent about an hour in the shop browsing the store and talking about guns to the workers.
While PNoy could have had as much right to go shopping for an hour and enjoy burgers before his flight as ordinary people do, this kind of stories just add insult to injury for Fil-Ams who felt the community had been snubbed by the President. After all, the Fil-Ams have been the number one remitters of dollars to the Motherland, helping keep the Philippine economy afloat. They thought Aquino should have at least appropriated time to meet with our kababayans here.
US Pinoys for Good Governance President Rodel Rodis said in a Balitang America interview that a meeting with Aquino would dispel notions that the president takes the contributions of overseas Filipino workers for granted.
“He has not included the overseas Filipino community, any mention of them in his State of the Nation Address. That’s 12 million people who contribute at least $24 billion a year to the Philippine economy, and it’s not worth mentioning in his State of the Nation Address. Even a shout out that says we thank the sacrifices of the overseas Filipino community, anything like that, would be greatly appreciate,” Rodis said.
“We wanted to discuss the issue of TPS with him,” Rodis pointed out. He said a push from PNoy would be a big help towards obtaining temporary protected status that would grant deportation relieve to Filipinos affected by recent disasters in the Philippines.
Rodis lamented: “All it takes now is a call from him to Pres. Obama, urging Pres. Obama, especially in light of the recent typhoon — the devastation around the country,
Arturo Garcia of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) said in the Balitang America report that their group has been trying to invite the President to visit the FACLA Hall, which is believed to be one of his father, Ninoy Aquino’s last public stops before his assassination.
“Inisip natin ng pangalan ito AMA na papalanganan itong FACLA Ninoy Aquino central ng Kalayaan or Ninoy Aquino freedom center Hindi na sagot ng email ko. Kung para dumaan sya sa lugar to,” Austin Baul, president of FACLA, told Correspondent Steve Angeles on Balitang America.
But then there are kababayans who were more forgiving of PNoy.
“The most important thing here is you have completed your mission. After your mission you should have time for your own personal thing also. Maybe go for a tour go visit a friend, relatives,” Dr. Veronico Agatep of FACLA said.
Supporters of Aquino said we should instead focus on the fact that he went back home with bountiful pasalubongs: about $ 2.3 billion in investment pledges for the Philippines.
As Balitang America reported on Friday, Aquino was said to have received these pledges from almost 20 companies during his trip to Europe.
In America, PNoy reportedly met with leasers of three companies interested in doing business in the Philippines.
Balitang America further reported that according to Aquino, these direct foreign investments may translate to 55,000 more jobs for Filipinos.
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos