Reformist group pledges support for Aquino presidential bid

By Maria Althea Teves, Newsbreak

Posted at Sep 09 2009 03:06 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2009 05:40 PM

A citizens-reform group announced their support to campaign for the presidential bid of Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

This was shortly after the son of the late former President Corazon Aquino and the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. declared his decision to run for the post Club Filipino, Wednesday.

“We declare our support for Senator Aquino’s candidacy for the presidency,” Remmy Ringen of Change Politics Movement (CPM) said, reading their press statement. “We believe that Senator Aquino’s integrity and commitment to good governance; his track record as a legislator in human rights and social reform especially in local governance will provide the needed leadership for change that the country needs.”

The CPM describes itself as a reform group composed of 4,602 members who are leaders of non-government and people’s organizations in 47 provinces and 13 cities, including the National Capital Region.

The support for Aquino is based on the results of an election done by CPM through text and on-line voting among all its members. Aquino garnered 82% of the votes done Monday, September 7.

Senator Manuel “Manny” Villar followed with 6% of the votes. Two percent of the members abstained. The rest voted for either Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Loren Legarda and Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

Ringen said many voted for Aquino because he is honest, has integrity, a good track record and has the capacity to “win power for reform,” consistend with the CPM criteria  in choosing a candidate.

Change in political landscape

Before Senator Mar Roxas declared his withdrawal for his candidacy for President and threw his support behind Senator Aquino, he was actually leading the election done by the CPM August 28, Ringen said.

Pampanga Governor “Among” Ed Panlilio and Governor Grace Padaca were also among the leading nominees for the movement’s candidate for Presidency, she added.

Former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, one of the national officers of CPM, said that Roxas’ announcement changed the political landscape and that they had to conduct CPM elections again.

She said CPM members were moved by Roxas’ unselfish gesture, and voted for Aquino in their second elections.

“We were inspired and encouraged that a long-time politician could rise above his personal interests and ambition, and put country and the public good first,” Ringen said further reading the CPM’s press statement.

CPM campaign vs. moneyed politicians

CPM Execom officer Jing Karaos admitted that their members and the organization could not match the machinery of moneyed politicians. She said, however, that what they do have are “warm bodies” with “a passion to take back politics from the hands of politicians who betrayed the people’s trust.”

Since members of CPM are not moneyed politicians but NGO and PO leaders, “they are used to mobilizing and giving hope to their communities,” said Karaos.

Every CPM member committed themselves to recruit members from their communities to attend “liberating and educational” forums and trainings done by the CPM so they would be properly guided as to who they should vote for the 2010 elections, said Karaos.

Southern Tagalog CPM officer Bernie Arragoza said that every member of CPM would translate to 100 more recruits. This is because the members also happen to be leaders of people’s organizations. Because of this, he is confident that they would deliver clean votes for Senator Aquino.

Soliman added that establishing “vote-buying free” provinces would hopefully contribute to the campaign for Senator Aquino’s presidency against moneyed politicians.

When people declare that their province is a vote-buying free zone, moneyed politicians would find it hard to convince voters to elect them, Soliman said. Aside from this, the voters themselves would be conditioned not to receive money from politicians, she said.

Roxas for their vice-president?

“We will support whoever will win in CPM’s vice-presidential elections,” Karaos said, whether it would be Roxas or another candidate. “Even if the winner is not Aquino’s running mate,” she added.

Aquino said earlier that he is waiting for Senator Roxas to decide on the former’s request to become his running mate in 2010.

Muslim leader Mhos Abas, a member of CPM from Mindanao, said that Roxas is not particularly loved by people from Central Mindanao because of his stand against the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

If Roxas would win in the CPM elections and would be formally announced as Aquino’s running mate in the 2010 elections, they would have to organize a series of seminars in Mindanao so Roxas could explain properly his stand against the MOA-AD, Abas said.

He has to explain his stand because “nagtanim na ng sama ng loob ang mga tao sa Mindanao dahil sa kanyang posisyon sa MOA-AD (people in Mindanao harbored ill-feelings against Roxas because of his position against the MOA-AD),” Abas added.

If not, it would be hard to translate votes for the senator, he said.

Arragoza said that when Roxas spoke in a meeting with Muslim leaders, the latter concluded that the Senator needs more information about what is happening in Mindanao and why the MOA-AD is important for them.

But, “they admire Roxas’ political conviction when he said that he knows that he will not have a lot of votes in the area because of what he believes in,” Arragoza said.

Soliman said that in their May 2009 CPM nominations for support process, Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Escudero and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay were among the 9 candidates in the CPM’s shortlist for vice-president.

But the said list is now void, Soliman said.

They will reconvene and re-elect new candidates since Binay declared that he might not run to give way to Roxas’ probably candidacy for vice-president. The voting will be done through on-line and text votes of CPM members, Soliman said.

The CPM will announce before end of the September 2009 who they will support as vice-president in the upcoming elections. – Newsbreak