'Borrowed glories'

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 -

The Liberal Party have finalized their team of Senators with Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as presidential and vice presidential candidates in the coming May 2010 elections. Both come from a pedigree of political clans.

Noynoy is the son and namesake of slain Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. Manuel Araneta Roxas or Mar for short, is the son of the late LP Sen. Gerardo “Gerry” Roxas. Mar was named after his illustrious grandfather, the late President Manuel Roxas.

The late Sen. Raul Roco, who once ran but lost to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the May 2004 elections, had an appropriate term for these lucky scions of political clans. He called them as riding on “borrowed glories.”

Roco came up with this succinct description when he came third to then Senators Gloria Macapagal and Ramon Magsaysay Jr. who landed as top two — in this order — during the Senate elections in May 1995. Of course, Roco referred to the respective fathers of his two colleagues — former Presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Ramon Magsaysay.

But having such political background, having ex-Presidents for parents like them is no guarantee of victory in Philippine polls. The young Magsaysay, then as a private businessman, found the hard truth when he first tried his luck in politics. He ran but lost as the vice presidential running mate of Miriam Defensor-Santiago during the May 1992 presidential elections. It was when he ran for the Senate three years later, that Magsaysay finally made it and landed second to Sen. Macapagal-Arroyo.

It was a sweet revenge for Sen. Macapagal-Arroyo when she topped the Senate race in 1995. Three years earlier, she was at the bottom of the 24-man Senatorial candidates when she first ran for public office. She was among the bottom 12 Senators who got only a three-year term in office while the first 12 Senators served for six years.

The re-electionist Sen. Roco, however, was not sour-graping nor trying to demean the memories of the two late Presidents when he talked about “borrowed glories” of the first two Senators ahead of him. He was merely citing to me such statement of fact when I was still covering the Senate and was writing about the election results at that time. The late Sen. Roco was proud of his own humble origin as a man who rose in his political career out of his personal accomplishments and made a name for himself.

Fast forward. His widow, Sonia Roco, has thrown the full support of her late husband’s party, Aksyon Demokratiko to Noynoy’s presidential bid. Sonia chose to support Noynoy as her presidential candidate over her late husband’s fellow Bicolano, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero who will be qualified by next month to run for the presidency. Under our country’s Constitution, anyone who wants to run for the presidency must be at least 40 years old.   

When asked whether he has plans to run for president in next year’s elections, Escudero replied anew he has no plans yet. “I will decide when I reach 40 years of age.” Escudero will turn 40 on Oct. 10. “If Noynoy announced his decision to run 40 days after the death of his mother, I will announce my decision 40 years after I was born,” Chiz wisecracked.

Chiz, and fellow Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Senator, Loren Legarda, are being considered by their party as their team to beat in the coming elections. The NPC is reportedly set to meet this week to finalize their own party’s tandem to field in the May 2010 race to Malacanang Palace.

Chiz could also fall under the “borrowed glories” tag coined by Sen. Roco. Chiz is the son of former Agriculture Minister and now Sorsogon Rep. Salvador “Sonny” Escudero III. The elder Escudero may not have reached the presidency in his long years in public service but he has three consecutive terms as Congressman from the 8th to the 10th Congress. His son Chiz took over their congressional district for the next three terms in Congress. They are now among the father-and-son teams in Congress among other political dynasties we have in this country.   

The other father-and-son teams now in Congress are those of Sen. Edgardo Angara and son Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, and Sen. Rodolfo Biazon and Muntin-lupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon. There’s also a brother-and-sister team in the Senate, namely, Senators Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano, and also a husband-and-wife tandem, that of Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. and Las Piñas City Rep. Cynthia Villar.

Speaking of Villar, the Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential standard-bearer is still scouting for his possible vice presidential running mate. Villar is reportedly considering Senate president pro tempore Jinggoy Estrada of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) or Sen. Pia Cayetano as independent.

A second cousin of Noynoy, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. is the administration’s Lakas-CMD-Kampi presidential standard-bearer in next year’s elections, with Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno as his possible vice presidential running mate.

Except for Noynoy and Mar, many of these presidential candidates have expressed so far their respective positions in favor of Charter change (Cha-cha). Understandably, Noynoy might oppose any Cha-cha proposal because the 1987 Constitution was the legacy of his late mother who has earned the world’s respect as the “icon of democracy.”

But the 1987 Constitution is not a perfect instrument. For democracy such as ours, it is being blamed for the many ills and problems we have as a nation. The Philippines is pejoratively called a “demo-crazy” country. For someone who stands for “change,” Noynoy’s keeping his mind closed on this issue on Cha-cha is incongruous to his LP’s slogan for change.   

The LP and NP are the country’s oldest political parties when our country used to have a two-party system. This has been replaced with the multi-party system under the 1987 Constitution. Many of the provisions in the Constitution that require enabling laws to be passed by Congress have already become part of the laws of the land, except the ban on political dynasties. With such ‘borrowed glories” still influencing Filipino voters, we shall continue to see the same old names in power.

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