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‘I will run,’ says Noynoy

MANILA – After undergoing a spiritual retreat and marking the end of the 40th day of the death of his mother, President Corazon Aquino, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino announced his candidacy for president in the 2010 election.
He told a cheering crowd of supporters at the historic Club Filipino where Cory was sworn in as president in 1986 that “I accept the plea of the people” to run for president.
Wearing a black shirt instead of the yellow symbolic color of his mother, Noynoy vowed to continue the work of his mother who played a crucial role in overthrowing dictator Ferdinand Marcos through People Power.
“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, said.
Vowing to fight the corruption that grips the nation, Noynoy said he will serve as a leader of all sectors of society and not just the rich to which his family belongs to.
Present during the announcement were sisters Ballsy, Piky, Viel and Kris who were all wearing black to mark the end of the mourning period for their mother who died on Aug. 1, 2009.
At a press conference after the announcement, Aquino declined to say if Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas, who withdrew his candidacy in favor of Nonoy, would join his ticket as vice presidential candidate. He said he offered the slot to Roxas and it was up to him to decide.
Roxas, Aquino’s colleague at the Liberal Party, surprised the public when he dropped his presidential bid early last month to give way to Aquino.
Aside from Roxas, two other opposition presidential hopefuls – Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay and Pampanga Governor Eddie Panlilio – have announced Their withdrawal from the race and offered their support to Noynoy.
Noynoy will now have to face deposed president Joseph Estrada and Senator Manny Villar, the two aspirants currently leading in the polls, to fall behind him to ensure the opposition vote is not split.
Malacanang reacted by wishing the senator good luck. The ruling coalition of President Arroyo is still mulling who in their ranks will be the candidate. November 30 is the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy.
Vice President Noli de Castro, meanwhile, said he will soon announce his plans soon. While the President said Noli will be a good candidate, she is also reportedly pushing for the selection of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro as the majority party’s bet. Teodoro is Noynoy’s first cousin.
The administration’s Lakas-Kampi coalition is in ferment after former President Fidel V. Ramos and former Speaker Jose de Venecia broke away from the coalition. (See story elsewhere in this issue).
Arroyo’s spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo conceded Aquino has emerged a strong contender for the presidency, while calling him a “welcome addition to the race.”
But Estrada, the 72-year-old former movie star who spent time in prison after he was toppled in a bloodless 2001 military coup and convicted of corruption, said the opposition should let the electorate decide.
The choice was not for “the elites and the bourgeois” to make, he said, in a dig at the Aquino camp.
Some observers doubt the qualification of the bespectacled, balding Aquino who has been a low-profile politician with no major legislative achievements after nine years in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate.
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.
Questions about Noyno’s readiness and qualifications to lead the country have been swirling around the political firmament. Malacanang, which is pushing Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, believes he is easy to beat.
Little is known about Noynoy beyond his familial relationship with his iconic parents and famous celebrity-sister, Kris Aquino. While he seems to stand over the shoulder of esteemed giants, political observers said that his survival in the intense presidential race would have to depend much on his own personal resumé and experience in the legislature.
Noynoy finished elementary, high school and college at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he got his Bachelor of Arts in economics in 1981.
In 1983, Noynoy became a member of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). From 1985 to 1986, he worked as a retail sales supervisor for Nike Shoes and assistant for advertising and promotion for Mondragon Philippines. He also served as the vice president and treasurer for Best Security Agency Corp. from 1986 to 1993 and served as executive assistant for administration (1993 to 1996) and field service manager (1996 to 1998) for Central Azucarera Tarlac.
In a 1987 failed coup attempt, Noynoy was seriously wounded. Rebel soldiers led by former military officer Gregorio Honasan attacked Malacañang. Noynoy was hit by five bullets (including one that is still embedded in his neck) while three of his four escorts were killed.
Noynoy’s career in government started when he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, representing the Third District of Tarlac, considered the bastion of the Aquino and Cojuangco clans. He was reelected to the post in 2001 and 2004, serviing as congressman until 2007 when he ran and won a seat in the Senate.
Noynoy is a member of the Liberal Party, one of the two political parties that traditionally dominated Philippine politics prior to the 1972 declaration of martial law. Currently, members of the Liberal Party form one of the major opposition camps that are usually at odds with the current administration. Noynoy held various positions in the party, such as secretary-general and vice president for Luzon. He is now the Liberal’s vice chairman, while his friend, Senator Roxas, is the party’s president.
In 2004, for instance, he was stripped of his post in the House as Deputy Speaker for Luzon after joining leaders of the Liberal Party in calling for the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo in light of the “Hello, Garci” scandal.
When he ran for the Senate in 2007, he garnered 14.3 million votes, the sixth highest of the 37 candidates for the 12 vacant seats. He ran under the banner of the Genuine Opposition (GO), a coalition comprising a number of parties, including his own Liberal Party, which sought to curb attempts by the current administration to amend the 1987 Constitution.

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