MANILA, Philippines - When Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III decided to pursue the presidency after the death of his mother last August 2009, not a few observers noted how Aquino's rise to popularity seemed to mimic that of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama whose successful campaign for the US presidency is considered a momentous political phenomenon.
One habit that Aquino shares with US President Obama is smoking cigarettes.
In a TV interview, Aquino admitted that he would have to kick his nicotine habit if he wins the presidential election on May 10.
"Sa vices, I assume ‘yung smoking ko will eventually go. Hopefully ma-weather natin ‘yung pressures with the job that we can give it up sooner other than later," he said.
Tobacco control group Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines earlier offered to help Aquino quit his smoking habit through therapy. The group also advised Aquino not to accept campaign funds from members of the tobacco industry who will “surely ask for political favors later.”
“We offer, if we may, the same advice to the good Senator. Quitting entails a lot of sacrifice and we have a battery of experts who can very well take care of him,” FCAP Executive Director Dr. Maricar Limpin said in a statement. (Read: Group asks Noynoy to quit smoking )
In the TV interview, Aquino said he will continue to run his campaign on an anticorruption platform since it is the number 1 problem facing the country.
He also defended his decision not to play the "Hello, Garci" tapes during the 2005 Senate investigation on the wiretapping scandal. The "Hello, Garci" wiretaps, which were recorded by military intelligence agents, allegedly contained conversations of President Arroyo with a poll commissioner over an alleged plot to rig the 2004 elections.
The scandal sparked the biggest political crisis ever faced by the Arroyo administration and culminated in a series of unsuccessful impeachment attempts against the President.
Aquino said he decided against playing the tapes since they were taken illegally. "The bottomline is there is a legal promise called the fruit of the poison tree. That means that any evidence taken illegally cannot be used in judicial proceedings," he said.
He said he talked to several lawyers before deciding on his stand on the "Hello, Garci" issue. "If the tapes were played, there would be compounding or aggravating circumstances and the evidence would not have been used," he said.