MANILA - Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II formally announced his withdrawal from the 2010 presidential race on Tuesday and his support for his partymate, Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
"I am announcing my support for the candicacy of Noynoy Aquino for President in 2010," Roxas said at a press conference at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.
"Noy has made it clear to me that he wants to carry the torch of leadership. The passing of our beloved former President Aquino has reawakened a passion among us. I acknowledge this as fuel to bring us to the realization of our dream: Good will triumph over evil," he said in his speech.
"Ito na ang pinakamabigat na desisyon sa buhay ko. Maniwala man kayo o hindi, ginagawa ko ito para sa bayan, para sa inyo. I do this for unity in support of change. And if that means that somebody must make the sacrifice, it must be me. Ako na," Roxas said, alluding to his political ads.
Among those present were LP chairman emeritus and former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former education secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad, and Aquino.
Country above self
Country above self
Statement of Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, September 1, 2009
He said his decision to withdraw his 2010 bid was placing the interests of the country above his own.
"Country above self. Bayan bago sarili," he said at the beginning of his speech.
Roxas said that he and Aquino share the same "outrage over the mess we are all in, the same way we share the solution--clean, honest, selfless public service."
"Noynoy and I want to make a difference, but we also know that we need to unite to achieve what we want," he said.
"Over the weekend, Noynoy and I had many long conversations... Masinsinang usapan. We agreed: Let us forget about ourselves for a moment. This is not about us, this is about our people and our country. This is about our common dream. The dream of our parents. But let us not remain a country of dreamers. Tama na ang pangarap. Gawin na natin, ngayon," Roxas said.
Before ending his speech, Roxas gave a message to Aquino.
"To you Noy, I say: I began the campaign to sow the seeds para sa pagbabago at reporma. You must now be the one to grow them in the arena of leadership," Roxas said.
"Hindi kami maghihiwalay ni Noy. I will stand with him," he said.
He also had a message for his supporters, saying he won't be abandoning them.
"At sa aking mga kababayan, sa mga nagtiwala sa akin: Mahal na mahal ko po kayo. Mahal na mahal ko po ang ating bayan. Hindi rin tayo maghihiwalay. Itutuloy natin ang pagbabago sa ating bansa. Itutuloy natin ang laban para sa reporma," he said.
He, however, did not say if he will be Aquino's running mate, or if he would run for re-election in the Senate. Noynoy is expected to make announcement about his decision for 2010 on Wednesday.
Prior to the press conference, LP officials declined to confirm the announcement, but LP leader and former representative Nereus Acosta told ABS-CBN's Pia Hontiveros prior to the 6:30 pm press conference that the LP is heeding the clamor of the people.
Acosta said Roxas will be explaining the rationale for the changes in the LP's political plans. He said national interest, rather than personal interest, became the basis for Roxas' decision.
Since Roxas announced his decision to run as LP's presidential candidate, he has spent heavily on political ads.
Liberal Party roots
Both the Roxas and Aquino families have deep roots in the Liberal Party.
Roxas' grandfather, former President Manuel Roxas, founded the Liberal Party in 1946. The elder Manuel was the first president of the Philippine Republic.
Roxas' father, former Senator Gerardo M. Roxas, was the president of the party from 1969 to 1982. "My father led it during the most difficult times of Martial Law. Sa harap ng peligro, sa kabila ng napakaraming tukso, hindi siya sumuko. (In difficulties and temptations, he did not give up.)"
"He inspired me-to stay the course, to fight the good fight, to pass the test of true character. To believe," Roxas shared about his father.
Aquino's parents were also involved in the Liberal Party. His father, former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. was the party's most vocal member against the Marcos rule. His mother, former President Cory Aquino, ran as a guest candidate of the party in the 1986 snap election.
In the weeks leading to Roxas' announcement on Tuesday, Filipinos mourned the August 1 death of Cory Aquino, a democracy icon, and commemmorated Ninoy Aquino's death last August 21.
(Eds: We erroneously reported that Manuel Roxas founded the LP in the 1960s. According to the LP website, he founded the party on January 19, 1946.)