‘Noynoy’ Aquino Declares Philippine Presidential Bid

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Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) — Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino III said he will run for president next year, after he was urged to become a candidate following the death last month of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

“I accept the call of the people, the charge of my parents,” Aquino said in a speech at Club Filipino in Manila, where his mother took her oath of office 23 years ago. He said last week he’d think and pray about whether to run, after Liberal Party leader Senator Manuel Roxas stepped aside and backed him. “The people want to go back to the time when democracy was in full bloom.”

“Noynoy” Aquino, 49, may be able to tap nostalgia for his mother, the widow who ended dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s two- decade rule in 1986 and had since 2005 joined calls for President Gloria Arroyo to step down amid accusations of vote- rigging and corruption, which the president has denied. Hundreds of thousands lined Manila’s streets for her funeral procession a month ago.

Benigno Aquino served three terms in the House of Representatives before winning one of 12 nationally-elected Senate seats in 2007, ranking sixth. None of his three most important bills — on budget oversight, productivity incentives for workers, and the Supreme Court selection process — have become law because “meaningful laws take time to get passed,” according to his spokeswoman.

‘Pale in Comparison’

“His achievements may pale in comparison with the other candidates, he hasn’t pushed major legislation in the House or the Senate, he’s been practically invisible,” said Prospero de Vera, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines in Manila. “I don’t know how they will spin that to make him look good.”

Roxas last week said he was ending his presidential campaign to back Aquino, who said he’d go on a spiritual retreat before deciding whether to run. Aquino today said he’s asked Roxas to run for vice president with him.

Roxas, who topped the 2004 senatorial elections and was one of the two candidates who has aired the most TV advertisements, ranked third and fifth in the latest surveys of the nation’s two biggest polling groups. He trailed or tied with former President Joseph Estrada, Vice President Noli de Castro and Senators Manuel Villar and Francis Escudero. Aquino wasn’t included in the surveys.

‘Political Frustration’

The Liberal party “had no other option after Roxas’s campaign lost traction,” De Vera said. “It may reflect political frustration.”

Aquino has “the X-factor of being Cory’s son, whom people think really served them well,” said Earl Parreno, a fellow at the Institute for Political Economic Reforms in Manila. His success “will depend on how broad the movement for change can become. The movement can draw from people as desperate as me.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Francisco Alcuaz Jr. in Manila at falcuaz@bloomberg.net

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