MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the three leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance, yesterday denied that he and his fellow UNA leaders are building political dynasties by fielding their children as senatorial bets for next year’s elections.
“Let the people decide that. Nobody has a monopoly of opinion, the monopoly of the truth. Let the people decide, they are intelligent (voters). They know the truth, and I am not saying that we have the monopoly of talent,” Enrile said in a radio interview.
Recognizing that they have paved the way for their children’s entry to politics, Enrile added that just like President Aquino’s parents - former President Cory Aquino and the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. - they have also sacrificed for the interest of country.
Enrile’s son, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile Jr., is running along with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s daughter, Nancy Binay-Angeles under the UNA senatorial slate. Former President Joseph Estrada’s son, Rep. Juan Victor Ejercito, is also part of the opposition slate.
“What I’m saying is you judge my son. I am not saying this because he is my son, but I am proud of him. I think he can equal if not better other candidates. He can deliver a speech without a ghost writer,” Enrile said.
He also defended Nancy from insinuations that she has no experience to run for a national seat.
“In terms of age and education, I think she can equal the ability of other candidates in terms of experience. She has been in politics with her father for a long, long time,” the senator said.
In the end, the fate of the three UNA leaders’ children will depend on the people.
“The arena is the people. They are the national jury. They will decide,” Enrile said.
He noted that the issue of relatives running for elective posts is not unique for the Philippines. In the United States, there are a few names that lorded over its political history, namely Bush, Reagan, Roosevelt, Rockefeller and Adams.
Aside from the UNA leaders, the Angaras and the Aquinos are also being accused of trying to build or perpetuate political dynasties.
Presidential cousin Bam Aquino is running for senator under the Liberal Party-led coalition.
Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara is running for senator also under the LP coalition. His father, Sen. Edgardo Angara, is finishing his term in the Senate and is running for governor of their province.
Rep. Angara urged voters to avoid voting for candidates just because they belong to familiar or popular political families.
“I believe that a person should not be voted into office because of his name. We should not give political dynasties a free ride. I support the call of those who are saying that political dynasties must be examined carefully. We must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff - those who are qualified and deserving and those who are not,” he said.
Angara said political dynasties “are not bad per se” and voters must decide whether these families have put prime to personal or public interest while in office.
“Voters should scrutinize the track record, performance and qualifications of the candidates. They should not vote for candidates merely because of their popular surnames or simply because their relatives hold elective positions too,” he said.
Angara chairs the House committee on higher and technical education. – Jess Diaz