MANILA - Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III has the full support of his family, whether or not he decides to run for the presidency after his spiritual retreat, according to his eldest sister Ma. Elena "Ballsy" Aquino-Cruz.
"Kung sa maging sa desisyon ni Noy sa kanyang discernment ay ganoon talaga, susuportahan namin siya 100%. Siguro it's another 6 years of our lives na hinihingi niya na tulungan namin siya na tulungan ang ating bayan, eh, wala kaming magagawa," Cruz told reporters at the launch of ABS-CBN's Cory Aquino commemorative exhibit at the Rockwell PowerPlant Mall in Makati.
("If his decision, from his discernment, is [to run], we will support him 100%. Maybe it's another 6 years of our lives that he is asking for, so we can help him help the country, then we can't do anything.")
Sen. Aquino has been widely quoted as saying that his decision to run for the 2010 polls is largely dependent on the support of his family. He said his sisters were initially "lukewarm" to the idea.
When Sen. Aquino started to consider a possible bid for the presidency, Cruz said they asked him to seek out guidance from his spiritual advisers first.
She told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that the family is not allowed to divulge details about the retreat, since Sen. Aquino "does not want any fanfare."
"This is not for show, he just really wants spiritual guidance," she said.
'Just like 1985'
Cruz said that just like their mother, the late former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino, the Aquino sisters had wanted their brother Noynoy to finish his term as senator until 2013 instead of seeking a higher elective office.
However, she said they were not expecting insistent calls by various groups, including the Liberal Party, for Sen. Aquino to run for the presidency just days after the death of their mother Cory, who passed away on August 1.
Cruz likened the situation to 1985, when Cory Aquino was being prodded by several groups to run for president after the then strongman Ferdinand Marcos called for "snap elections." Their father, former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., was assasinated in 1983 upon his return to the Philippines from exile in the US.
"Noong siya'y (Cory) nabubuhay pa at may nag-uudyok kay Noy na maging vice president, talagang pinakikiusapan niya na 'Huwag na muna, Noy. Tapusin mo muna ang iyong pagka-senador. Huwag kang mag-aapura.’ Then again, as I said, hindi naman namin alam that her death will cause this thing now na si Noynoy ay napapaisip na siya ay kakandidato," Cruz said in a live interview on TV Patrol.
("When our Mom was alive, and people would ask Noy to run for vice president, she would tell him, 'Not yet, Noy. Finish your term as Senator. Don't rush.' Then again, as I said, we did not know that her death will cause this thing now, that Noynoy is being asked to be a presidential candidate.")
'He will not be corrupt'
Should Sen. Aquino decide to run in 2010, however, Cruz has no doubt on his abilities as a leader.
Asked what Sen. Aquino got from their parents, Ninoy and Cory, in terms of leadership skills, Cruz told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak: "They will not be 100% the same because they had their own ways. But what I am sure of is that I won't be nervous that Noy will be tempted to steal. That I'm very sure of. Because even among us siblings, when it comes to money matters, he's very scrupulous."
"And for a politician, he's not at all pragmatic. He's very ‘white or black’ when sometimes people also need to be "gray." But that's where he is the same as my parents, that Noy can't be bought," she added.
She said the Aquino siblings understand the difficulties of being the highest leader of the land, since they lived through Cory's trials when she was president.
"Pero kung tutuusin, hindi ko naman masasabing totally sad iyong nangyaring iyon ano? Pero hindi talaga ginusto ng Mom. If I weigh iyong mga maliligayang araw at mga malulungkot na araw, mas marami talaga ang malulungkot na araw. Kasi people think that's it's really nice to be up there. Pero, I'm not saying that we're the only family with the right intentions, pero talagang Mom took the challenge," she said.
(I'm not saying the experience was totally sad. But Mom didn't want to be thrust into power. If I weigh the happy days and sad days, there were more sad days. People think it's really nice to be up there (in power). I'm not saying we're the only family with the right intentions. But Mom really took the challenge.)
"I think when it comes to the presidency, it's really destiny. No matter how much you want to be president, but it's not for you, you won't have it. Like my Dad. Mom didn't like it, but she got it," she said.
Patience and prayers
Cruz stressed that the Aquino family, especially Sen. Aquino, should not be forced to make a speedy decision on the matter since the presidency is a weighty issue.
She appealed to the public to give them time to pray and reflect, as well as to let them observe 40 days of mourning in peace.
"Hindi lang dapat na makiliti ka na meron lang mag-udyok sa iyo ng konti eh, eto ka na. Kailangan mag-isip ka muna. Ang hinihingi lang naman namin eh patapusin iyong 40 days. Not that on the 41st day na meron na siyang made-decide, pero sana pagbigyan. Kasi ibang kaso na ito. Kasi mamuno ka ng bayan is no joke," she said.
(It shouldn't be that when someone nudges you, you will do it. You need to think first. We're asking people to let us finish the 40 days. Not that on the 41st day, he will have a decision, but give him time. Leading the country is no joke.)
Cruz said she feels bad for her brother, who is being tugged at on all sides. On one hand, his sisters Ballsy, Pinky, Kris, and Viel (who Ballsy said was dubbed the "Four Witches" by Cory) are asking him to think carefully before deciding to launch a presidential campaign.
On the other, he is being prodded by his Liberal Party mates to make a decision on whether he will run, especially after LP leader and presidential aspirant Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II withdrew his presidential bid to make way for Sen. Aquino.
"I texted (Noynoy) last night, thanking him for listening to us. I cried a little when I told him, 'Noy, I don't want to meddle. I can imagine that if we can't sleep, more so with you since your burden is great. Mom is gone, and I feel like she will be disappointed if I just shut up'," she said.
"In fact, my sister was saying, 'Noy, just think. If we go into this, just think that this is another 6 years that we will put our lives on hold. But we told him, we will let you know what's on our mind, we will tell you how we feel, but when a decision is made, we will give you 100% support," she said. With a report from Jing Castaneda, ABS-CBN News and Kristine Servando, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.