MANILA, Philippines – When opposition senatorial candidate Richard "Dick" Gordon grilled him on smuggling and power shortage – issues currently hounding the Aquino administration – senatorial bet Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV acknowledged that the Philippines under his first cousin isn't perfect.
But, he pointed out, there has been progress.
“Wala naman hong nagsasabi na perfect na tayo ngayon eh” (No one's saying we're perfect right now), Aquino said in response to Gordon at a debate organized by Rappler on Saturday, April 13.
Aquino, however, said he disagreed that the country is generally problematic right now. He cited achievements like getting an investment grade, among others. "Malinaw naman po na merong resulta" (It's clear there are results), he said.
Aquino said continuity is key to changing the country. “Let's build on what we have. Let's build on the gains so far... Let's move forward with our President along with Team PNoy members.” (Watch this portion of the Rappler debate below.)
Aquino clan 'not monolithic'
Aquino is the first cousin of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. He is the 6th Aquino to seek a Senate seat.
In an interview for Rappler's #PHvote series, he vowed he will not merely become President Aquino's puppet. (Read: Bam Aquino: Strong parties solution to dynasties.)
"The truth is, in history, if you look at the Aquinos’ different stands on issues, there was never a time when we acted as a monolitihic group. We all had our own issues. We all focused on different areas and we all had our own stands. Sometimes they didn’t necessarily agree with each other," he said. (Watch Rappler's #PHvote interview with Aquino below.)
Aquino is also a former youth commissioner, appointed to the post by President Gloria Arroyo to whom his father was an adviser. Aquino now backs the prosecution of Mrs Arroyo, as he said during the Rappler debate.
Country 'not working'
He said that as senator, he wants to address problems such as the following: the territorial row with China, party-switching, teachers’ low salary, unemployment, environmental degradation, and the rise in crimes perpetrated by motorcycle riders.
“The country is not working, my dear, and I don’t want to be like one of those in Gone With the Wind who says, ‘Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.’"
“I do give a damn,” he said in an earlier interview with Rappler.
Gordon is a former mayor of Olongapo before he became the founding chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Using both positions, he helped rebuild the economy of his province after the United States military bases left and Mount Pinatubo erupted. He finished 5th in the senatorial elections in 2004, with 12.71 million votes. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.