By Harvey S. Keh The past three weeks we have all been witness to the rebirth of hope and change in our country brought about by the recent declaration of Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s that he will indeed continue the fight left behind by his parents and make a run for the Presidency this coming 2010 elections. The reaction of the Filipino people to Aquino’s candidacy has been nothing short of overwhelming as evidenced by the banner story of the Philippine Daily Inquirer today which states that according to an SWS Survey conducted in the vote-rich areas of Luzon, 50% of Filipinos would vote for Aquino while the former top-notcher Senator Manny Villar is a far distant second at only 14%. This momentum for unity, reform and change has also been fueled no doubt by the personal sacrifices made by Senator Mar Roxas, Governor Eddie Panlilio, Governor Grace Padaca and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. Roxas, Panlilio and Padaca all said that they will no longer pursue their bids for the highest position in the land while Pangilinan has clearly stated that he will also forego his bid for the Vice-Presidency to support an Aquino-Roxas ticket. So what is next for these four selfless public servants? As we all know, Aquino has categorically said that he wants Roxas to be his running mate in the 2010 elections which I think is a very good decision given the deep relationship and trust that these two gentlemen have for each other. Let us remember that the position of Vice-President is very important given that s/he will just be a heartbeat away from being our next President. Thus, it is imperative that Aquino choose someone whom he believes can become a good leader for our country. Roxas also comes from the vote-rich Western Visayas region which will definitely help Aquino who in turn comes as well from another vote-rich region, Central Luzon. Panlilio is still deciding whether to continue to pursue politics or go back to the priesthood. His main focus right now is to ensure that the on-going recount filed against him by his opponents will not prosper thus, his group Kapampangan Kontra sa Recount together with Kaya Natin and Kilos Na are currently asking for support from friends and supporters towards raising funds to pay the revisors at COMELEC and continue to protect the integrity of the result of the last 2007 elections. If Panlilio decides to pursue politics, he has told us that he is eyeing a Senate run under the Aquino ticket or another run for Governor against current Vice-Governor Yeng Guiao and Senator Lito Lapid. For Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, who, aside from being a co-founder of Kaya Natin, is also a stalwart of the Liberal Party (LP), she is currently being eyed by LP to be one of their Senatoriables together with former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Rep. Ruffy Biazon and former Rep. Neric Acosta. The dilemma that Padaca is currently faced with is that she can still run for one more term as Governor and the clamor for her to stay in the province continues to grow. In our last conversation, Padaca remains open to running for the Senate but said that she will continue to consult her supporters before she makes a final decision on her plans for 2010. Padaca together with former Senate President Jovito Salonga and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo are all LP leaders who were awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service (acknowledged as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Asia). For his part, Pangilinan is currently active in helping push the Presidential bid of Aquino. He together with Panlilio, Sonia Roco, Jim Paredes and Bam Aquino are the initial convenors of the movement, Pilipinas para kay Noynoy (PINOY) which brings together multi-sectoral reform organizations towards supporting the Presidential run of Aquino. Assuming that an Aquino-Roxas team-up will materialize, Pangilinan is also rumored to be a possible candidate for Mayor of Quezon City where he once served as a City Councilor. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org ____________________________________________________________ Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government.
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By Harvey S. Keh LAST week, we were all caught by surprise by the sudden announcement of Senator Mar Roxas that he was withdrawing from the 2010 Presidential Elections to give way to the candidacy of his party-mate and good friend, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Senator Aquino is now being asked my many groups to take the cudgels for genuine change and reform that have been left behind by his parents, former Senator Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory Aquino. I greatly admire Senator Roxas for this act of true statesmanship and this also further bolstered my belief that there are still many good people in Philippine politics. Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, a fellow stalwart of the Liberal Party also announced that he is willing to forego his bid for the Vice-Presidency if and when Senator Aquino decides to choose Senator Roxas as his running mate. Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio and Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca followed Senator Roxas’ self-sacrifice by also announcing their withdrawal from the Presidential and Vice-Presidential race to also support the bid of Senator Aquino. Through these acts of sacrifice, I am very confident that it will only be a matter of time when all the reform groups will converge towards supporting Senator Aquino and a common slate that would represent the change that every Filipino has been longing for. Yet, as I read a major newspaper (not the Philippine Daily Inquirer) last Sunday, I was disappointed by an article written by a regular columnist who said that it was good for Panlilio to back out from the race since he didn’t have the money to run a national campaign which he mentions as having at least 1 billion pesos. This kind of thinking is what has led the country to where it is now. Moral, upright and good leaders opt not to run during our elections because many people tell them that if you don’t have money you will not win. This is also the reason why more often then not Filipinos are left with no other choice but to always choose between the lesser evil since those who have the genuine desire to be of service do not anymore run for office since they do not have enough financial resources. Moreover, this kind of thinking has led to patronage politics and politics as a business wherein the politicians would “invest” millions or even billions to win an election then they would “reap” the fruits of their investments by siphoning off public funds that should be used to provide basic services to the Filipino people. Worse, they will also have no choice but to grant political favors to benefit the people who donated millions in their campaign. If we will all accept this columnist’s way of thinking then I will be the first one to tell all of you that Senator Noynoy Aquino will not win in the 2010 elections. His current net worth is less than 15 million pesos as compared to Senator Manny Villar’s billions of pesos. However, like many of you, I refuse to buy this columnist’s argument of having billions of pesos in order to win in the 2010 Presidential elections, Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio won in Pampanga against his well-funded and politically-entrenched opponents despite only having an initial fund of P 1,000. Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca also won not only once but twice despite her opponents spending millions of pesos against her. Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija won despite not having any posters or tarpaulins during her campaign. If we want to elect a reform President like Senator Noynoy Aquino that will not be beholden to the self-interests of the ruling oligarchs, business groups and traditional politicians, this President must be elected through the support of ordinary Filipinos like you and me. Like the Aquino family who has given already so much of themselves for our nation, every Filipino will also need to make our own small sacrifices such as chipping in our own small share of funds to help in his campaign, volunteering our time and talents and going out of our way to convince our friends to support Senator Aquino. This is our chance to prove once again to the whole world that the Philippines can lead the way in showing that the power of a true democracy lies in the hands of the people and not in the hands of a few. Comments are welcome at email@example.com _____________________________________________________________ Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government.