Anti-corruption stance boosts Aquino's bid for Philippine Presidency

14:27, May 14, 2010      

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Remie Ann Mables stood in line for two hours, endured heat and boredom, and was extremely frustrated with the Philippines' first ever automated vote-counting polls. But the 31-year-old housewife didn't give up. She wanted to vote for a Philippine President that she believed in - Liberal Party standard bearer Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III, better known by his nickname "Noynoy".

"Of course I will vote for Noynoy because he's not corrupt," Mables said. She and the millions who voted for Noynoy are banking on Noynoy's campaign promise that he will root out corruption that has long impoverished this Southeast Asian country.

And this is why, analysts said, Noynoy is topping the polls. Latest election tally issued by the Commission on Elections ( Comelec) and poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council and Responsible Voting showed that he garnered over 13 million votes, or about 5 million votes more than second player, former Philippine President Joseph Estrada.

"Filipinos want change," said Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, political science professor at the University of the Philippines. She noted that most voters were disappointed by the corruption scandals linked with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They believe that Noynoy is the best person that can change the way this country is being run.

In several interviews conducted shortly after the May 10 elections, Noynoy vowed that he will investigate Arroyo's involvement in an alleged vote-rigging incident in 2004 and review suspect government contracts.

"People want to clean up the mess of the present (Arroyos's) administration," said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms.

Casiple welcomed the fact that people are choosing Noynoy for his anti-corruption stance. "We (Filipino voters) are learning to talk about issues... and in this sense we are (becoming politically) mature," he said.

But such trust on Noynoy's integrity and honesty is not due to his track record as a lawmaker in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Rather, voters believe that being his mother's son is enough to keep Noynoy incorruptible. Or as Mables puts it, Noynoy will not do anything to tarnish the good name of his parents.

Noynoy, after all, was a reluctant candidate. He was only persuaded to join this year's presidential race when the death of her monther, former Philippine President Corazon "Cory" Aquino, in August 2009, has spurred the country to search for a political leader who is honest and trustworthy.

"Trust and integrity were given a priority in this year's elections," Casiple said, adding that these are also the factors that propelled Cory's bid for presidency in the 1986 snap polls.

Like Noynoy, Cory was hesitant to run for president. But the assasination of her husband, Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. launched her candidacy and propelled a People Power Revolt that toppled the regime of the strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

That Noynoy's victory can be attributed to his parents shows that the Philippine electorate still choose their leaders not only based on issues and platform, but also on one's popularity and/or links with a strong political clan.

"This year's elections is all about political relationships, with one political family forging alliances with another," said Samira Ali Gutoc, Muslim youth leader and newspaper columnist.

"Identity politics in the Philippines is still very strong," Ferrer said, noting that most of the wining candidates in local and national elections are either popular actors/sportsmen or members of a political clan.

Noynoy himself is part of a political clan and so is his running mate, Senator Mar Roxas who's currently in second place in the vice presidetial race.

Jejomar Binay, who appears to be winning the race for vice president, served as mayor for 20 years in the financial district of Makati City. His position has been "inherited" by his son, Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., who was proclaimed mayor-elect by the city board of canvassers.

In the northern Philippine province of Ilocos Norte members of the Marcos family are the biggest winners. Imelda Marcos, the 80- year-old widow of the late dictator, won a congressional seat, while daughter Imee Marcos was elected provincial governor. The son Bongbong Marcos is also doing well in the senatorial race.

In the province of Pampanga, Arroyo was proclaimed winner of the congressional race in her hometown. Arroyo will be joining other members of her family, including brother-in-law, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo Jr., in Congress and is likely to target the House Speakership when the new Congress opens in July.

Source: Xinhua
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