Noynoy Aquino Fulfills Destiny
Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III becomes the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines.
The son of national hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino II and former president Corazon Aquino, Noynoy is “The new Aquino” who won convincingly in the country’s first automated — and fastest — elections Filipinos have ever witnessed.
A consistent topnotcher in polls, Aquino’s rise to power started after he reluctantly decided to become the Liberal Party’s bet after some prodding from supporters and family following the death of his mother on August 1, 2009.
The outpouring of love and devotion to the country’s mother of democracy convinced the unassuming Aquino to make a run for the highest post in the country, taking Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, a former presidentiable and also a strong contender, as his running mate.
Just a day after four of his rivals conceded, the ever-reluctant Aquino has refused to claim early victory. “My parents taught me to be humble,” he said at a press conference a day after the May 10 elections.
Amid the chaos of election day — defective electronic ballot machines, shootings, and long queues in polling precincts — the Commission on Elections placed Aquino on top of the race as it disclosed partial and official tallies coming from polling precincts.
The Comelec claimed that this year’s elections produced the highest turnout of voters and the “most peaceful” exercise of suffrage. Philippine stocks surged the next day, with investors relieved that the election passed without any major problems.
Aquino was slow to declare victory as after he received news that the Nacionalista party bet Manuel Villar’s decided to quit the race.
“Based on the partial election results, it is clear that I have significant lead over the next contender in the presidential race. I am grateful to the Filipino people for their support and to the loyal supporters in our People’s campaign who made this achievement possible,” he said.
Aquino will formally takes office on June 30.
The 50-year-old bachelor who drew on the enormous public support for his democracy hero parents, secured just over 15.2 million votes, or nearly 42 percent of the total, according to final results released by parliament on Tuesday following the May 10 election.
Former president Joseph Estrada finished well behind in second place with nearly 9.5 million votes.
A joint public session of Congress formally ratified the results and proclaimed Aquino.
His inauguration is scheduled for the end of the month.
The rafters were packed with supporters wearing yellow, the trademark campaign color of the Aquino family.
Wearing a barong, Aquino arrived at parliament surrounded by family and friends and was escorted to a holding room.
Legislators from the two houses of Congress approved Aquino’s election by acclamation, and Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri declared him “the duly elected president of the republic”.
“It is now time to heal the wounds of the election. It is time to move forward,” Zubiri said earlier on ABS-CBN television.
Ironically, the 73-year-old Estrada held the record for the biggest win in recent Philippine political history when he triumphed in the 1998 elections with 39 percent of the total vote.
But the former action-movie star was ousted three years later, half-way through his term, amid allegations of corruption for which he was later convicted.
“I sincerely offer my congratulations to my good friend and worthy opponent,” Estrada said in a speech read by his son in Congress.
“I am confident that president-elect Aquino will fulfill his campaign promise to address the problem of corruption.”
For Aquino, victory is another chapter in his family’s dramatic political story.
His father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, was shot dead in 1983 at Manila airport as he returned from US exile to lead the democracy movement against Marcos.
His mother, Corazon Aquino, took over from her slain husband and led the “People Power” revolution that eventually toppled Marcos in 1986. She then served as president for six years.
Her death from cancer last August triggered a massive outpouring of support for the family that turned the son from a low-key senator to presidential front-runner.
Aquino, an economics graduate, has said that fighting corruption, improving the economy and bridging the enormous wealth divide will be among his top priorities.
But his Liberal Party will be hamstrung in its efforts to implement reforms after its choice for the vice presidency, Mar Roxas, lost.
Estrada’s running mate, Jejomar Binay, won the vice presidential contest and could potentially be a destabilizing force for Aquino.
However, Binay insisted on Wednesday he would be a positive influence in government.
“I am a team player and I am willing to work with the president. Whatever is asked of me (I will do),” Binay told AFP.
The Liberal Party will also not have a majority in either house of parliament.
The Lakas Kampi CMD coalition of outgoing President Gloria Arroyo will remain powerful in parliament, and Arroyo won a seat in the lower house, where she could lead opposition to Aquino.
– Edwin Oliva