Another Aquino eyes Senate seat
Bam enters politics ahead of cousin KrisBy Gil C. Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Another Aquino is entering the political arena next year, and it is not Kris.
Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV on Sunday confirmed that he had obtained the go-signal of his cousin, President Benigno Aquino, to seek a Senate seat in next year’s elections.
“Yes, I have his (President’s) blessing, but as he told me, the party will still decide on the final lineup,” Bam Aquino said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Bam said he had not yet decided whether to join the President’s Liberal Party or run as an independent with the backing of nongovernmental organizations, such as Kaya Natin, which has been vocal about its support for the President’s cousin.
“Currently, all discussions are about being on the coalition slate and not yet about parties,” Bam said.
Bam is going into politics ahead of the President’s youngest sister, the 41-year-old Kris, who has hinted at also going into politics. In her latest declaration, Kris said she wanted to run either for Tarlac governor or for senator in 2016.
“It’s not about who among us should go in first. I just feel I’m ready for this,” said Bam, who also plans to marry later this year.
Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who is also the LP president, confirmed the party was seriously considering Bam as a senatorial candidate, saying he had a good track record as a youth leader.
“I hold him in high regard. He is an outstanding youth leader,” Roxas said.
He said Bam had been focused on microfinancing enterprise and this was “consistent with the President’s program of matuwid na daan (righteous path).”
“We would welcome him (Aquino) to the party. He is among those seriously being considered,” Roxas said.
Bam’s father is Paul Aquino, youngest brother of the assassinated former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and campaign strategist of the late President Corazon Aquino in the 1985 snap election and in the 1987 midyear elections. Bam is the nephew of former Senators Agapito “Butz” Aquino and Tessie Aquino-Oreta.
While admitting that being an Aquino would give him an edge in the elections, Bam said he wanted people to judge him on his merits.
“I am proud to be an Aquino and our political legacy. They say that I will always be under the shadow of the Aquinos, but I think ‘shadow’ is the wrong term. Their legacy is my inspiration,” said Bam who, at 35, is expected to be the youngest senatorial candidate next year.
He also said: “I’m probably the first Edsa baby to run for the Senate and I hope to represent the interests of our generation.”
Edsa refers to the 1986 People Power Revolution during which hundreds of thousands of Filipinos massed on the Edsa highway in an uprising that ended Ferdinand Marcos’ 20-year rule.
Bam was 8 years old when he joined the uprising with his mother and brothers until Marcos fled Malacañang. “My dad was asked by Tita Cory to get support in the US for our cause. He was in the US a few days after the 1986 elections and he was there during Edsa,” Bam said.
Although this will be his first shot at an elective post, Bam said he had previously been in public service, having been appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as commissioner of the National Youth Commission of the Philippines (NYCP) in 2001.
After he stepped down as NYCP chairman in 2006, he formed the Micro Ventures Foundation, which focused on providing advice and technical support to businesses catering to micro-entrepreneurs.
“We chose that field because it caters to 65 percent of the economy. The work allowed me to touch base with the people who represent the majority of our economy,” said Bam, a summa cum laude management engineering graduate of Ateneo de Manila University.
Although the late Corazon Aquino and her allies abandoned Arroyo at the height of the “Hello Garci” election scandal in 2005, Bam said he stayed on for another year at NYCP to ensure its projects would be implemented as scheduled under his watch.
“I didn’t want to leave with unfinished business. I felt that I had a commitment to run the NYCP as professionally as I could,” he said.
Bam is among at least 15 names reportedly being considered by the President for the LP coalition slate.
Among those aspiring for inclusion in the slate are members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (Senator Loren Legarda), Nacionalista Party (Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and former Las Pinas Representative Cynthia Villar) and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara).
Other candidates on the short list are reelectionist Senators Francis Escudero, Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Quezon Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros, Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon and his deputy Danilo Lim, the head of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, and the head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Joel Villanueva. With a report from Christine O. Avendaño