Bishop wants Kris Aquino to confirm or deny she is eyeing vice presidency

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Archbishop Oscar Cruz. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—After Cory and Noynoy as president, are Filipinos ready for Kris as vice president in 2016?

Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz urged Kris Aquino or her handlers to clarify reports that she was planning to run for the second highest public office of land in 2016 national elections.

Cruz, the former head of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, said the reports should be clarified because they continue to spread, especially after President Aquino’s youngest sister announced last month that she was quitting showbiz and was planning to study law.

He said he heard of the reports of Kris’ political plans from “credible sources within the administration” as early as three months ago.

“Formerly, it was only in whispers. Now, it has become more commonly said and heard that the youngest sister of the President of the Republic will also run [for] Vice President of the Republic come 2016,” Cruz said in an interview

“Those concerned better address this matter. If it is not true, then they should say it, so that it will stop once and for all. If there is silence, that means there is consent,” he added.

The 42-year-old Kris, short for Kristina Bernadette Cojuangco Aquino, is the youngest daughter of the late former President Corazon Aquino and the assassinated former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Of the five Aquino children, it is Kris who is said to have inherited Ninoy’s charisma.

Cruz said that he saw “nothing wrong” with Kris running for public office, adding that she has a big chance of winning because of her popularity as an actress, television talk show host and commercial product endorser.

“It is okay because it takes so little requirement to be a public official in this country. You are [required only to be] a Filipino citizen and you know how to read and write,” Cruz said.

“I’m not saying she’s not capable. As I said, if she’s going to run, let her run because it takes so little to qualify for public office, from the local to the national level,” he said. “I have no preference, and who am I to tell her what to do?”

Kris’ marital problems again came to light last month when she sought a temporary protection order against her estranged former husband James Yap after he supposedly made unwanted sexual advances on her when he visited her condo in December. She also announced that she was leaving show business.

Yap countered by trying to secure a hold departure order to prevent Kris and their son from traveling to Europe. The court allowed Kris and the boy to leave.

Cruz said Kris’ plan to go to law school would also boost her chances.

“If she will take courses, that will better prepare her for public office, especially in the national level, then that’s good. I have nothing against that,” he said. “If she were a lawyer or even before she passes law, which is three years from now, at least she will have law subjects that she would know. That would help her.”

However, Cruz said, the prospect of having another Aquino occupying one of the highest positions in the land just after President Aquino’s term ends in 2016 could be dismaying for many since civil society is trying to drum up public support against political dynasties.

“The dynasty issue will be more affirmed. Will we ever change?” Cruz said.

But Cruz also said that Kris’ rumored plan to run for the vice-presidency could still change.

“I’m just saying that up to now, this is what is being said. My friends tell me this and I just listen. So what I’m now saying is whether it is true or not, say it as it is,” Cruz said.

“If up to now this is not stopped… and here comes now some difficulties with reference to the personal life of Kris Aquino, it might be interpreted as in aid of election. That’s not fair naman,” he added.

Cruz also noted that during the requiem Mass for Cory Aquino at the Manila Cathedral in August 2009, Kris pointedly said that only she and then Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III “remained” in the public limelight. Their three other sisters are very private persons and do not like to be in the limelight.

“She said, `Noy, only the two of us remain.’ I remember that very, very well. `What will happen now that only the two of us remain?’” Cruz said, adding that on hearing the rumor of Kris’ plan to run for vice president, he realized how that statement “was loaded.”

“Now, if they will withdraw, it is up to them. As I said, the earlier you clarify this, the better,” Cruz said.

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