MANILA, Philippines?(UPDATE 2) Senator Benigno ?Noynoy?Aquino III has again deferred his decision on joining the presidential race, saying he still needed to pray for ?discernment and divine guidance.?
Aquino issued the statement at a press conference Wednesday, a day after Senator Manuel ?Mar? Roxas made a surprise announcement that he was backing out of the 2010 presidential contest to give way to Aquino.
But Aquino vowed never to turn his back on the challenge.
?I?ll never turn my back on this fight. And I hope you?ll join me in this fight,? he said.
Aquino said he needed to go into a spiritual retreat this weekend to seek divine guidance on his 2010 plans.
?As I pray for discernment and divine guidance, I urge you to pray with me so that you too can assess your own readiness to take part in the difficult struggle ahead. We are in this together,? he said.
Calls mounted for Aquino to run following the death of his mother, former president Corazon Aquino on August 1. People across the country mourned her passing and hundreds of thousands turned up to pay their last respects for the country?s ?Icon of Democracy.?
Soon, grief turned into a campaign for the younger Aquino to continue his mother?s endeavors for democracy and good governance.
His family however remained apprehensive about the idea of his running for the highest post in the land.
?In the remaining days of mourning for our beloved mother, I would strive to sincerely answer this question,? Senator Aquino said.
He then recalled how his father, martyred senator Benigno Aquino Jr., fought the corrupt and brutal rule of Ferdinand Marcos, and how his mother continued the battle to regain democracy in this country.
?Ngayung umatras muli ang ating bayan patungo sa bangin ng kapahamakan, panahon muli upang manindigan, panahon ding maghanda para sa isang mas mahaba at matinding laban kung saan walang bibitiw hanggang makamit natin ang pagbabagong ating hinahangad? Aquino said.
But Aquino did not let the occasion pass without commending Roxas for giving up his presidential ambition for him.
Aquino said Roxas? sacrifice was ?the finest example of selflessness that our nation solely needs in this morally troubled times.?