Santiago promises courageous gov’t
AN ACADEMIC achiever who won her university’s beauty tilt not once but twice.
A “globally famous personality” who survived her battle with the “Big C” with her “signature humor and bravery.”
A “rock star” who fearlessly exposed corruption in the government, even cases involving her colleagues in the Senate.
Described by the emcee in the superlatives, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago last night rallied her supporters to back her presidential candidacy in the May 2016 elections, promising a “courageous government.”
But of all the accolades given her, Santiago seemed to take pride more in her being a cancer survivor.
Amid the applause and cheers from a boisterous crowd inside the packed Ang Bahay ng Alumni on the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City, Santiago clenched her left fist as the emcee mentioned that she had survived stage 4 lung cancer.
“I tell you today… Of all physical trepidation and hardships known to man, cancer is not an easy disease to have,” Santiago said in her speech at the gathering dubbed “Meet and Greet with Miriam.”
“After consultations with my doctors… (they said) it would be up to me to decide whether or not I should campaign for President again. My answer is this, do you want a clean government? Do you want a courageous government? Do you want a government by and for academic excellence?” she said.
When the crowd answered yes in unison, Santiago replied: “If that is the case, do you want me?”
Her supporters, who wore red shirts, chanted her name in a sign of approval.
When one of her supporters told her that “we’re with you,” Santiago answered back teasingly: “You’re with me? You just don’t know me.”
Santiago looked energized as she was warmly welcomed by her backers, among them businesswoman Cecile Ongpauco, the mother of actress Heart Evangelista whose husband, Sen. Francis Escudero, is the running mate of another presidential aspirant, Sen. Grace Poe.
For Ongpauco, her presence at the gathering was a testament to her friendship with Santiago, who had introduced Ongpauco’s daughter to Escudero.
“I believe Senator Miriam is the most qualified candidate who can improve and effect positive change for the betterment of the country,” Ongpauco said.
“I’m here because I’m a very, very close friend to Senator Miriam. I believe she’s the only hope for this country,” she said.
‘Thieves’ in the Senate
In her speech, Santiago lambasted her fellow legislators who were implicated in various cases of corruption.
“In the Senate, it’s not difficult to gather funds from the government. The problem is, first, those who are talking are also the thieves. Second, those speaking against graft and corruption cannot even talk in English correctly,” she said, eliciting laughter from the audience.
“Third, after they stole the money from the government, they will use the public funds to buy votes. In this way, the plunder of public funds will have no end. This must stop,” she said.