GENERAL SANTOS CITY—President Benigno Aquino III’s controversial sister pulled off a surprise again, this time publicly indicating that she may not support all of her brother’s chosen candidates in the administration’s Team PNoy senatorial ticket.
In a news conference during a campaign rally here of administration candidates Sen. Francis Escudero and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe, TV personality Kris Aquino begged off from answering questions on whether she was endorsing straight Team PNoy.
“If there are others [that I will support from the other groups], I’d rather not say,” the President’s youngest sister said.
Asked if she’s campaigning for a 12-0 sweep for President Aquino’s chosen ones, she replied, “I won’t answer that so I don’t have to lie.”
The younger Aquino, one of the country’s highest paid endorsers and the country’s top taxpayer according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, joined Escudero and Poe in their campaign rally in this city and Davao yesterday.
She is expected to accompany the two administration candidates in rallies in Cebu and Tacloban City today.
Confirming her endorsement of the reelection bid of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay Jr., a good friend, she was pressed to answer whether she was also close to Binay’s sister and opposition senatorial candidate Nancy.
“Her youngest sister Anne-anne is one of my closest friends. I know the follow-up question already,” she said.
“Out of respect for my brother, I won’t answer that and in the interest of my telling the truth, I also won’t answer that,” she added.
The President has campaigned for the candidates in the Team PNoy coalition, who are expected to support the administration’s legislative agenda in the next Congress.
“President Aquino has campaigned harder now than during his own campaign for the presidency,” Escudero said during the news conference.
The Aquino and Binay families have been quite close for decades.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, one of the leaders of the opposition coalition UNA, was one of the most loyal officials of former President Corazon Aquino during the anti-Marcos struggle and during the first Aquino presidency.
The Vice President has repeatedly said that he owes his political career to Cory Aquino and her then Interior Secretary Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who appointed him officer in charge of Makati after the Edsa revolution in 1986.
He was mayor of the country’s business and financial city until 2010 when he successfully ran for vice president. His stint was only interrupted once when the constitutional term limit caused him to step aside.
His wife, Elenita, won the 1998 local elections in Makati and ran the city for one term until he could run again for mayor in 2001.
Aside from being with Escudero and Poe on their campaign through Mindanao and the Visayas, the President’s sister said she was with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday and will be joining Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo on Sunday and cousin Benigno Aquino IV next Wednesday.
Asked about her own political plans, the young Aquino said the break she’d be taking from television would be spent on a vacation with her two sons and a possible tourism development project in partnership with a French businessman in one of General Santos City’s coves.
“I will first improve tourism arrivals so that I can be proud of something should I run for office,” she said.
The President’s sibling, who at one time had Escudero as her cohost in her daytime talk show, said she promised the reelectionist senator on his birthday last Oct. 10 that she would join him during the last stretch of the campaign.
“It’s lucky that [Escudero and Poe] are together [in today’s campaign rally] and it seems I got three different text messages from other senatorial candidates asking why they weren’t included in this rally. I said it was Chiz who made the schedule,” she said, laughing.
The television personality may have added more people to those who are already upset with him, Escudero said in jest.
Meanwhile, civil society groups allied with President Aquino are rolling out the “big guns” from the entertainment industry in its final push for Team PNoy candidates a few days before election day.
4 days, 4 provinces
The Yellow Ribbon Movement (YRM) and People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) have tapped not only the presidential sister but also Sharon Cuneta (wife of Sen. Francis Pangilinan) and Dingdong Dantes for its four-day, four-province “Rock the Vote.”
“We will once more rock the vote to renew our support for President Noynoy Aquino’s ‘Daang Matuwid,’ for the reforms that are now paving the way for the Philippines to take off, and for the Team PNoy slate, especially Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino and Risa Hontiveros. With a report from Gil Cabacungan