As first written in my column last May 25, presidential first cousin Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV was early on being groomed to run in the 2013 Senate elections. Bam’s senatorial bid is now officially out in the open. No less than Bam confirmed he is throwing his hat in the Senate race among the many aspiring administration candidates.
But being an Aquino does not automatically mean a free pass to the 12-man Senate slate of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) headed by his Kuya Noy.
Kuya Noy, of course, is President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the namesake son of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Bam, on the other hand, is the lookalike of his slain uncle Ninoy. Bam is the son of Ninoy’s youngest brother Paul, and nephew of former Senators Agapito “Butz” Aquino and Tessie Aquino-Oreta.
P-Noy himself was also once a Senator for three years before he ran and won in the May 2010 presidential elections.
Other than his Kuya Noy, Bam cites another cousin, Malabon acting Mayor Antolin “Len-len” Oreta III, son of ex-Senator Oreta as the only other relative working in government. All that hullabaloo about the Aquinos building a political dynasty is nothing but empty rhetoric. Look who’s talking?
Speaking of political dynasty, Malabon is the showcase of such curse in the Philippines. Incumbent Mayor Canuto “Tito” Oreta has been seriously ill for the past two months. So Len-len who is the Vice Mayor took over in his uncle’s post in acting capacity while Paulo Oreta, son of Mayor Tito Oreta, is one of the councilors in Malabon.
This is a very clear case of political dynasty replicated in the halls of the 15th Congress and in various parts of the country. There are the father-and-son teams of Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile and Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, Sen. Edgardo Angara and Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara. There is also the sibling team of Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano at the Senate. At the House of Representatives, it’s all in the family with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Camarines Sur Rep. Dato Arroyo, Ang Galing Pinoy Party-list Rep. Mikey Arroyo and their late uncle, Negros Occidental Rep. Iggy Arroyo. Then there’s the father-and-daughter team of Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Mayor Sarah Duterte. I could go on and on with so many other political dynasties in power together spread throughout the Philippines.
Anyway, now that the cat is out of the bag, Bam is all over the place introducing himself to Filipino voters as the right choice to become elected Senator like his cousin, uncles and aunt before him.
As an aspiring senatorial wannabe, Bam is not new in public service. He once headed the National Youth Commission during the Arroyo administration. He believes his exposure in ABS-CBN’s Bantay Bata program, in non-government organizations and in micro-finance has given him wider experience in the socio-development services. He was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) last year for Social Enterprise and Community Development.
He has been active in the promotion of the sari-sari store business through theHapinoy Community Store Program. In the STAR column last Monday by businessman Joey Concepcion, I learned that Bam is the host of the SME Go!: Powered by Go Negosyo, a TV program that seeks to promote entrepreneurship starting from small and medium enterprise (SME). It is a 30-minute TV show aired on GMA News TV on Saturdays and Sundays and replayed on government-run PTV-4 on Tuesdays.
While he may be an Aquino, Bam’s senatorial bid will not be served to him on a silver platter, so to speak. P-Noy made this clear to Bam that his nomination would “go through the process” they follow in the LP.
Bam, however, noted excitedly that his Kuya Noy is “very supportive” of his senatorial bid after he convinced him he is really ready and prepared for a politician’s life. Likewise, Bam said, LP president Mar Roxas II is also “very supportive” of his decision to try his luck in the Senate race.
Interviewed last Monday in the early morning radio program of Joe Taruc of DzRH, Bam disclosed having personally talked about his senatorial bid with his Kuya Noy last week. Initially, Bam said, his Kuya Noy asked him if he knows what he is getting into.
Bam was six years old when Ninoy was slain in 1983 and nine during EDSA I in 1986 when his late aunt, former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino was swept into office at Malacañang Palace. He has been exposed to politics at an early age when his father brought him along to the campaign and even spoke at rallies for his Tita Cory.
Bam turned 35 last May 7, the minimum age requirement for senatorial bets. Incidentally, Bam is still a bachelor like his Kuya Noy. But unlike his Kuya Noy, Bam has a steady girlfriend, Timi Gomez, of six years. She is the brand manager of one of the multinational companies here.
But before he goes to campaign next year, Bam said he would be married by that time. Bam revealed he and his fiancée have agreed to settle down and tie the knot this September. In fact, Bam said he has invited to their wedding his Kuya Noy, the first ever bachelor President to assume office and remains the most available in the country.
It’s public knowledge P-Noy has been dating several women. This was after P-Noy broke up with Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad, who last year got married to Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo.
In fairness to his Kuya Noy, Bam believes getting married is not in the order of priorities of the President. Bam went on to aver his Kuya Noy would not get married while still in office so that he could remain focused to serve the people. If ever, Bam boldly predicted his Kuya Noy would perhaps get married only after his term ends in June 2016.
This early, questions are raised on Bam’s independence of mind if ever elected as Senator under his Kuya Noy’s ruling party.
Paternal uncle Butz Aquino and Aunt Tessie Oreta, when they were senators, acted with rabid independence. Both went against P-Noy’s late mother’s wishes. Butz voted against Cory’s extension of bases treaty while Tessie sided with ex-President Arroyo.
Does Bam come from the same Aquino mold?