Good news! Sen. Noynoy Aquino declared his candidacy for president. Now, the real fight to restore true democracy begins. — Perry Diaz
Aquino declares presidential bid
By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net, Agence France-Presse
The announcement came following a highly-publicized spiritual retreat and made on the 40th day of former president Corazon Aquino’s death Wednesday, as the family ended the traditional period of mourning.
“I accept the plea of the people. I accept the advice of my parents. I accept the responsibility to continue the fight for the people. I accept the challenge to lead in this fight. I will run in the coming elections,” Aquino, 49, told a crowd of cheering supporters.
Vowing to fight against corruption that pervades the nation, Senator Aquino said he would be a leader for all sectors of society and not just the rich.
“I will be there because of the people, I will stay there because of the people and hopefully I will be true to my word to serve the people,” he said.
Aquino made the announcement at Manila’s historic Club Filipino, where his mother, Corazon, was sworn in as president in 1986 after leading the “People Power” revolution that ended Marcos’s 20-year reign.
Senator Aquino’s sisters—Ballsy, Pinky, Viel, and Kris—were also there. They were all wearing black as was Noynoy.
But he could not say yet who would be his running mate.
At a press conference after the announcement, Aquino declined to say if Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas would join his ticket as vice president, saying he would just let the former trade and industry secretary make the decision himself.
“I offered the vice-presidency slot to him, am waiting his decision” he said.
An official of the multi-sectoral group Movement for Good Governance (MGG), meanwhile, is lobbying for an Aquino-Jejomar Binay tandem.
“We believe that if Senator Aquino was free to choose his running-mate, he would surely pick (Makati City Mayor) Jojo Binay. He is the only politician that Noynoy can trust to help him carry the mantle of leadership to unite the country,” Celia Lopez, MGG-Southern Luzon chairman, said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Lopez said her group—which she claimed had 25,000 members from the ranks of students, workers, farmers, religious, and professionals—has been primed to launch a house-to-house campaign to push for an Aquino-Binay tandem.
She believed that Binay, a stalwart of Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban, would no longer pursue his presidential ambition.
Prior to his mother’s death, the bespectacled, balding Aquino was best known as a low-profile politician with no major legislative achievements after nine years in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate.
He was better known as the former boyfriend of a broadcast journalist, Korina Sanchez, and the brother of TV celebrity Kris Aquino.
Aquino said he only began seriously considering a presidential bid after seeing the massive outpouring of support for his family following his mother’s death from cancer.
People across the country mourned former president Aquino’s passing and hundreds of thousands poured into the streets to pay their final respects to the country’s “Icon of Democracy.”
Soon, grief turned into a campaign for Senator Aquino to carry on the work of his mother.
Aquino said he would rely on the help of ordinary Filipinos to become president, just as they propelled his mother to power.
“The reason why I am on this path is because I believe the public will support and help me in the campaign,” he said.
“I want to make democracy work not just for the rich and the well-connected, but for everybody.”
His father, also named Benigno, is held in equally high esteem by many throughout the Southeast Asian nation of 92 million people.
As then opposition leader, Marcos gunmen shot him dead at Manila airport in 1983 as he returned from exile.
His assassination led to Cory reluctantly moving into politics and becoming president for six years, a period that has been widely acclaimed for restoring democracy after a generation of martial law.
Senator Aquino called on Filipinos to recall his mother’s achievements when they considered who they wanted to be their next president.
“During my mother’s time, she was not corrupt. Even the policeman on the street had second thoughts of being corrupt,” he said.
Nevertheless, his family belongs to one of the powerful clans that have dominated Philippine life for generations, and observers have pointed out that a win for Aquino would be another victory for a range of influential people.
Corazon Aquino was born into the Cojuangco family, which continues to play a major role in the economy.
Her cousin, Eduardo Cojuangco, is majority owner of brewing giant San Miguel and, according to the latest Forbes rich list, the seventh wealthiest man in the Philippines.
Aquino’s decision also opens the tantalizing prospect of a two-way race for the presidency against his first cousin, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, who is a leading candidate to run for the ruling coalition.
The first challenge for Aquino, known by his nickname of “Noynoy,” is to unite a fractious opposition.
Former president and movie star Joseph Estrada wants to run again, while property tycoon Senator Manuel Villar has been leading recent polls of potential opposition presidential candidates.
Estrada released a statement welcoming Aquino’s decision but giving no indication of withdrawing from the race to back his younger rival.
With a report from Delfin Mallari Jr, Inquirer Southern Luzon Bureau