MANILA, Philippines - The first cousin of President Benigno Aquino III may be running for senator in next year's elections.
Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV rejected insinuations of a political dynasty after he was mentioned as a senatorial candidate of the pro-administration Liberal Party in next year’s election.
Aquino said dynasties protect vested interests, and the track records of his relatives show that their only interest is to serve the country.
“There is no dynasty to speak of, but there is a history of public service that I hope to be part of,” he said in a Philippine Star report.
The 35-year-old Bam also disputed conjectures his candidacy and possible victory are aimed at protecting the interests of the Aquino family in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.
Bam told The STAR the Aquinos have no interest in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.
“The best people to ask about Luisita are the Cojuangcos and not the Aquinos,” he said.
“As far as I know, it is already being distributed and the government is moving as efficiently as possible.”
Bam believes his exposure in ABSCBN’s Bantay Bata program, in nongovernment organizations and in micro-finance has equipped him for the Senate post.
“But it is my work with the poor and in social enterprise in the past years that has shaped my belief that the right policies and programs can transform communities,” he said.
“We need to take this to the next level and ensure that Filipinos have the right opportunities to improve their lives.”
Bam said he headed the National Youth Commission during the time offormer President Gloria-Macapagal-Arroyo.
“My time as chairman of NYC, a national agency under the executive department, provided me experience in governance,” he said.
Bam’s face bears much resemblance to that of the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. He is the son of Ninoy’s brother Paul.
He was six years old when Ninoy was slain in 1983 and nine years old during EDSA I in 1986.
The only Aquino in government now is the President himself.
His uncle and aunt, Butz Aquino and Tessie Aquino-Oreta (siblings of Ninoy), have not returned to politics, although both of them have been elected senators in the past.
Bam is the fifth candidate of the LP on record, apart from TESDA directorgeneral Joel Villanueva, Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, former lawmaker Risa Hontiveros and Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon.
Bam is president of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO).
He was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) for 2010 in the category of Social Enterprise and Community Development.
Bam’s inclusion in the LP slate came in the wake of reports that Sen. Franklin Drilon, an LP stalwart, said he had recruited former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. to join them and be among next year’s administration candidates.
The second six, according to sources, include Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III.
The rest are re-electionists from the Nacionalista Party of Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., with whom the LP will have a tie-up.
Among those from the NP bloc are Villar’s wife, Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, now on her third and last term, and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV.
The last two will be coming from the Nationalist People’s Coalition of business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. – maternal uncle of President Aquino – and they are re-electionist Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda.
Talks are also ongoing for the possible entry of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, who has just left the United Nationalist Alliance.
Possibly former Surigao del Norte governor Robert Ace Barbers might be included in the LP slate.
With the 13 names, Pimentel or Barbers might still be included since Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is likely to assume her post as a member of the International Criminal Court. By Delon Porcalla, The Philippine Star