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Noynoy 'very close' to making decision on 2010

Sen. Noynoy Aquino talks with members of ‘Tuloy Pinoy’ at the Aquino residence on Times Street in Quezon City yesterday. ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Benigno Aquino III is “very, very close” to deciding whether he would run for president next year.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Aquino said he had reached the “final stretch of contemplation” and would call on the religious to help him in the crucial decision, as his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, did in 1986.

“I started with, ‘Sobrang imposible itong gusto nila (What they want is too impossible).’ But as the days went by, it appears that it becomes more doable. But one thing has always been clear: country first before anybody.”

Aquino said he had extensively discussed the matter with his four sisters – Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and Kris – all of them “filled with anxiety.”

He said he might go on a religious retreat before coming out with a pronouncement, as one of his sisters had suggested.

Aquino declined to divulge the result of his meeting with Sen. Manuel Roxas II during the weekend.

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“We both have the same vision for the country,” he said.

“After that meeting, I admired and respected him (Roxas) more… He was unselfish, other-centered rather than self-centered.

“Whatever happens, the Liberal Party will remain intact.”

The LP will come out with a statement before his announcement of his decision, Aquino said.  

Yesterday, National Heroes Day, people wearing yellow t-shirts and ribbons belonging to the newly organized TULOY pNOY Movement and Kubol Pagasa trooped to the Aquino residence on Times Street, Quezon City to urge Aquino to continue the causes started by his parents, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino.

The groups have also asked the public to write a letter of support for Aquino even as a big drum has been placed at the gate of the Aquino residence where people can leave their messages.

Alex Lacson, leader of TULOY pNOY, said Aquino has the “essential qualities” that could make a great leader who could bring the country “to the path of progress and greatness.”

In a letter to Aquino, Lacson said he does not know of any graft and corruption case hurled against Aquino, or that he had stolen money from the public coffers.

“Your father Ninoy had his time to fight and he fought his battle valiantly,” read the letter. 

“Your mother, President Cory, had her time too, and she also fought her own battle with utmost decency and grace.

“Now is your (Noynoy) own time. Today is your moment to fight. This is your own battle.”

Gerry Gamez, 44, who more than 20 years ago wrote Aquino’s mother to convince her to run against President Ferdinand Marcos, has again written a letter, this time for Noynoy.

“Ayaw namin sa mga lider na ipinagpipilitan yung sarili nila, mas gusto pa namin na tumaya sa isang tao na hindi ipinagpipilitan ang kanyang sarili at walang bahid-dungis (We don’t want leaders who force themselves on us; rather, we want one who is not forcing his candidacy and who is not stained by scandal),” read the letter.

“Tumaya lamang si Senator Noynoy, hindi namin siya iiwan magisa. We are not asking him (Noynoy) to make a miracle for us, but we believe that he can unite and lead the nation to a new direction, towards the real change we have been longing for. A new direction where we are willing to follow him or go with him in order to realize that dream, our dream of real change in this country.”

Aquino warmly welcomed his supporters inside the residence for an informal dialogue. 

Roco wants Aquino as standard-bearer

The political party of the late senator Raul Roco has declared Senator Aquino as its standard-bearer in next year’s presidential elections.

Speaking to reporters at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan yesterday, Mrs. Sonia Roco, Aksyon Demokratiko chair, said Aquino is the only one who could carry the cudgels for the Filipinos’ aspirations and hopes as a people.

Quoting her letter to Aquino, Roco said: “You are this Chosen One, the Anointed to run for president of this ailing country. It is very clear. See the hand of God in the events that have transpired recently.

“Sense the great awakening that your mother’s moving on to heaven has revealed. Recall the outpouring of love and thanksgiving from a grateful Filipino people for your parents’ legacy of love and sacrifice for country.

“You cannot turn your back on this call – unexpected, unplanned, unintended as it may seem at the moment.”

Roco told Aquino in her letter that Aksyon Demokratiko will support him all the way to Malacañang next year.

“If by God’s good grace, you accept, then we can meet and plan the details together,” read the letter.

“I pray that the Holy Spirit enkindle the fire of love in our hearts, guide and enlighten you to decide only according to God’s Will. With hope in my heart.”

Roco told Aquino the Cry of Balintawak, which was commemorated yesterday, started the Philippine Revolution against Spain and ushered a new set of leaders to lead the establishment of a sovereign nation.

“Our beloved country today badly needs another turning point like that of the Cry of Balintawak in 1896,” read the letter.

“With another national election scheduled next year, it is every citizen’s duty and responsibility to unify and choose a new set of leaders, who are honest and true, with the courage to lead our country out of the quagmire of corruption and mismanagement.”

Roco said she had already met with Aquino who told him that he is still consulting with various people before deciding to accept the offer of Aksyon Demokratiko.

Among the four sisters of Aquino, only Viel Aquino-Dee remained undecided on his possible presidential candidacy next year, she added.

Roco said a million-signature campaign has been initiated by Edgar Roces, son of Chino Roces, to convince Aquino to run for president under the banner of Aksyon Demokratiko.

“In this context, and on this day of heroes, our party Aksyon Demokratiko, entreats you, Senator Noynoy, to run for president of the Philippines,” read the letter.

“And if you do, and we hope you decide soon, Aksyon welcomes you as its standard-bearer. Aksyon calls on all those who want to join hands and participate in this movement to volunteer.

“Aksyon is ready to help in the coordination campaign for this Noynoy for President Movement.”

Roco said they would not settle for Aquino running for vice president only.

“We prefer him to run for president,” she said.

“When he decides to run for vice president, then that would be a different matter that we have to decide. The vice president position is a spare tire. We need someone to drive the car.”

Roco said Aquino’s experience as lawmaker made him more prepared to run for president compared to his mother, who was a plain housewife when offered to run for president in 1986.

“This is even better than Cory who responded to the trust that she saw through,” she said.

“Noynoy has the trust and the sincerity to help solve the problems of the country today.”

The late senator Roco founded the Aksyon Demokratiko political party in 1997.

‘Don’t lose hope’

A former protégé of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin told the faithful yesterday not to lose hope despite reports of corruption.

In his homily celebrating Mass on Sin’s 81st birthday at the EDSA Shrine, Bataan Bishop Socrates Villegas said there is still hope for the people despite the death of Sin and former President Corazon Aquino.

“He (Sin) would always keep his feet flat on the ground and yet his mind and heart would be soaring up in the air,” he said.

“He would not allow the drudgery of reality to prevent him from making dreams, from making impossible dreams.”

Villegas said: “We are so discouraged with corruption, moral sins, corporate sins, social sins that are so prevalent, yet in spite of that we should not give up hoping that things would be better. As the Americans say, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The best is yet to come.”

Villegas said when Sin passed away, he turned to Mrs. Aquino when he needed advice, especially on matters concerning the country.

“Men like Cardinal Sin and women like Cory Aquino would always have timeless significance,” he said.

“Their significance would outlive their life on earth.”

Aquino’s children Viel Dee and Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, who was accompanied by her husband Eldon Cruz, were present in yesterday’s noontime Mass.

Ballsy told reporters that every year they always attend Masses in honor of Sin, whether it was held at the Manila Cathedral or EDSA Shrine because they recognize his contribution, not only to the country but to their family as well.

She recalled that whenever there was a crisis her mother and Sin were inseparable and that they were even called kambal or twins.

Joining Villegas in the consolidated Mass were Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francis de Leon and Emeritus Bishop of San Jose de Antique Raul Martirez and 53 priests.

Roxas told: Give way to Aquino

Sen. Manuel Roxas II must give way to Sen. Benigno Aquino III as standard-bearer of the Liberal Party, according to Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

In a statement, Pangilinan, who is eyeing the vice presidency, said Roxas must sacrifice his presidential bid in favor of Aquino.

“I know Mar and his family have given up so much as well in preparations for 2010, and this too will be a huge sacrifice on their part,” he said.

“But nothing is more important than sacrificing for our country and for the change we desperately need as a nation.

“I, too, am more than willing to sacrifice by giving up my vice presidential bid if this is necessary to unite and rally all forces committed to genuine change behind Aquino’s presidential bid.”

Pangilinan asked the LP to take on the challenge of providing the country a viable standard-bearer for change and reform.

“Magkaisa tayo at mag-sakripisyo upang mabigyan ng alternatibo ang mamamayan sa (Let’s unite and sacrifice inorder to give our people an alternative in) 2010,” he said.

“Hindi ito laban ng LP lang. Laban ito ng puwersa ng pagbabago. Hikayatin ng Partido Liberal ang lahat sa reform block na itaguyod ang kandidatura ni Noynoy, at ipagpatuloy ang laban at mga nasimulan ni Ninoy at Cory (This is the fight not just of the LP, but of the forces of change. Let the Liberal party rally all those in the reform block to support the candidacy of Noynoy, and continue the what was started by).”— With Jose Rodel Clapano, Evelyn Macairan, Aurea Calica

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