Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, after spending some days  praying about it, has decided to run for President of the Philippines next year, and his candidacy has upset a lot of plans.

The ruling party (theLakas-Kampi coalition) is saying “no big deal”, but actually it is, if for no other reason that he has “name recognition” and there is a lot of grass roots support for him because of his family.

Ah, but therein lies the problem. Although he has been in the legislature for 11 years and has been an associate of his mother (the late greatly beloved President Cory Aquino), even the Philippine Inquirer admits he is probably best known

as the former boyfriend of broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez, and the brother of TV celebrity Kris Aquino.

Yet in a time when the public is cynical about corrupt politicians, Aquino is seen as a Mr. Clean, who even if (like his mother) he may not clean up everything, at least he won’t personally be part of the corruption.

And to emphasize that, one major news outlet, ABS CBN is doing a series on the corruption of other politicians, including those in the present administration.

To get to the bottom of the Philippine political game, you have to know which families are related to whom by marriage, or by friendship. And then, the elections often come down to “money and machinery”: money for gifts to people and for neighborhood improvements, and the pasting together of the political machine to try to get some unity among candidates.

Yet name recognition is important. Too often, elections come down to deciding which clan or family will win, and the public shrugs and figures that “all of them crooks” (as my husband reminds me frequently). Given the choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum, a lot of folks will simply give their vote to the highest bidder.

But Aquino has “name recognition”, and this is important in a country where families, not individuals, are the important unit of society. To say “he is running on his family’s name” ignores that he worked with his mother, and that presumably he has inherited the family’s gifts for honesty, hard work, and fighting for the Filipino.

The real question right now is if he can unite the opposition, and if he can raise enough money to run a campaign at this late date.

With the announcement, some other politicians whose names had been mentioned as presidential candidates have decided to back him. Other candidates say they will not give up their bid for the presidency.

So will this leave a fragmented opposition, which bodes poorly for change.

The real question is Erap, the well beloved ex president Joseph Estrada.

Yes, he was convicted of corruption (and later pardoned) but as an ex film star who ran with great grass roots popularity, his presence in the Presidential campaign could be a major problem for Noynoy.

So far, Erap refuses to back Noynoy, saying he is just another “candidate of the rich”.

Yet Estrada is old (72 years) and has health problems. This could work against his candidacy, especially if the public sees him as a spoiler (who wants revenge against his political enemies) instead of a candidate who is a winner.

Finally, one has to remember that the party in power is still popular among the rich families and much of the business sector, and money speaks loud in elections.

So let the campaign begin.


Pinoys who disagree (or who want to get into the gritty details) are welcome to comment.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.


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