Angara declares gubernatorial bid

By Manny Galvez, Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 23 2012 02:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 24 2012 04:12 PM

BALER, Aurora – The cat is finally out of the bag.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, who is said to be eyeing the governorship in the 2013 elections, said his bid was spurred by an overwhelming clamor from a majority of the mayors in the province.

Saying he was a “reluctant candidate” who had no gubernatorial ambitions, Angara said he was never interested in the post but was forced to seek it because of the endorsement of the municipal mayors.

“In fact, I was the one who proposed a Noveras-Angara tandem which I considered unbeatable. But our political leaders rejected that. Instead, they endorsed me to run for governor,” he said.

Angara, the longest-serving senator in the post-EDSA Senate, was referring to the supposed tandem of Vice Gov. Gerardo Noveras and his nephew, Rommel Angara, which had floated a year ago.

Noveras has since declared his bid for the governorship, refusing to back out despite a series of backdoor negotiations with the senator’s camp.

Angara, in an earlier interview, said if his younger brother, Baler Mayor Arthur Angara, does not stand a chance against Noveras, he would look for somebody else to pit against the latter.

But he apparently changed his mind following the mayors’ endorsement for him to run for governor.

“I am not really obsessed with the governorship. But there was a clamor from among the mayors of Aurora that snowballed to a point that I have to reconsider. They said that my running would be the only assurance of the continuity of the development programs we have successfully mapped out and implemented in Aurora,” he said.

Angara’s younger sister, Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, is on her third and last term in the Capitol. She would be seeking a comeback at the House of Representatives which she previously served for three terms representing the lone congressional district of the province.

While he has not made public his decision to seek the governorship, Angara has reportedly already made it “final” and revealed it to his close allies and friends in politics, including former President Joseph Estrada under whose administration he served as agriculture secretary.

Over the past months, the senator has shown signs that he would indeed run for governor.

Last Aug. 13, Angara surprised the crowd at the 31st foundation anniversary and 27th annual general assembly of the Aurora Electric Cooperative held at the Aurelco headquarters in Barangay Reserva, when he donated four tricycles during the raffle draw. He and Noveras were among the guests at the twin event.

Last Sept. 8, the senator stayed longer than usual during the closing ceremonies for Aurora Plays Football, a program he launched for the kids in the province, held at the Baler Central School.

“He was not the type who would stay long in social gatherings. That shows how serious he is in his gubernatorial bid,” a relative said.

During a testimonial dinner tendered by the UP Law Alumni Association in honor of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno last Sept. 14 at the Manila Polo Club, Angara was introduced as the “future governor of Aurora” by the program emcee, lawyer Ma. Celia Fernandez-Estavillo, his former senatorial chief of staff.

Meanwhile, the senator has been elected as one of the vice presidents of the Centrist Democrat International (CDI) during its ongoing Biennial Leaders’ Meeting in Rome.

Angara, who is currently in Rome, represented the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) party of which he is president.

The meeting was attended by several key world leaders led by CDI president Giorgio Napolitano, the President of Italy, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

The CDI, previously known as the Christian Democratic International, was founded in 1961 as an alliance of democratic political parties with membership in 62 countries.

Angara said the Philippines and Cambodia are the only Southeast Asian countries represented in the CDI, a leading global international political group that strongly advocates human dignity and rights, women’s rights, and promotion of interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

Aside from him, elected vice presidents were Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.        

Angara will be CDI vice president for the Asia-Pacific region.

Before returning to Manila, he will be meeting Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo, the pope’s official summer residence.

“The CDI is highly respected across the world. To be elected to a key position in this institution is a distinct honor for me,” he said.

“By linking with like-minded political organizations in other countries, the LDP hopes to strengthen its position as a truly platform-driven political party,” the senator added.

The LDP recently joined the ruling Liberal Party as part of its coalition for the 2013 mid-term elections.

Angara’s son, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, will be LDP’s candidate in the 12-man LP senatorial slate.

The senator said he and the LDP’s “adhesion to the CDI is a strong statement on the commitment of the LDP to work for political party reform and provide strong leadership in promoting democracy and liberty in the Philippines and in Asia.”

Angara is one of the main authors of the proposed Senate Bill 3124 or the Political Party Development Act, which aims to institutionalize a strong political party system in the country.

“One major factor that makes our political parties weak is their dependency on personalities rather than issues and political platforms,” he said.

“Political parties ought to advocate for clear-cut programs which can define their organization and its members. Only then will people start trusting political parties and not view them as mere vehicles for personal power,” he added.