MANILA, MAY 18, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Norman Bordadora, Philip C. Tubeza - President Benigno Aquino III has revealed four names that are certain to be included in the administration’s senatorial ticket in 2013.

These are Customs Commissioner Ruffino Biazon, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority head Joel Villanueva, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara and Akbayan party-list member Risa Hontiveros.

“We have four candidates already that have been decided,” Aquino said in an open forum during a meeting of alumni of United States universities in Makati on Wednesday night.

“As you know, there are a lot more applicants than slots. There are at least 24, probably 32 that are applying for the 12 slots,” he said.

Still premature

The President begged off from naming the other potential candidates of the administration coalition, saying, “it’ll be too premature to tell you all of the other candidates.”

“And it will be unfair for those who have or are applying but might not be accepted to announce their names at this time,” he added.

Of the four the President mentioned, only Biazon belongs to the ruling Liberal Party that Aquino chairs.

Villanueva is a leader of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list group while Angara is a member of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

Villanueva is now a constant companion of President Aquino when the latter has speaking engagements outside of Malacañang. Aquino, in his speeches, also mentions Villanueva for his achievements in the Tesda.

Senator’s son

Aquino also indicated support for Angara’s senatorial bid in a recent provincial trip, saying the congressman’s job as a spokesperson for the prosecution panel in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona has made practicing law difficult.

Angara, who is on his third and last term as Aurora representative, is a son of Sen. Edgardo Angara who is also on his third and last term at the Senate.

Despite the apparent endorsement from the President, Angara Thursday said he has not decided yet whether to run for the Senate and is waiting for public opinion polls before making his move.

“I think we should wait for the mid-year survey before we make our final decision,” he told a press briefing.

Biazon thanked the President for the announcement but admitted that he was still not completely sure about making another Senate run.

“I would have to assess if I have the capability to win. Maybe it’s 60/40. Sixty percent sure about running and 40 percent unsure,” said the former congressman from Muntinlupa who admitted to being “more comfortable” in Congress.

Biazon and Hontiveros ran under the LP slate in the 2010 senatorial elections. They both finished within the top 20 but outside the winning circle.

No ‘lame duck’

Biazon Thursday denied claims that he had become a “lame duck” at customs after Aquino’s announcement.

He said he still had a lot to do in cleaning up the BOC, which is perceived to be one of the most corrupt agencies in government.

“My concern is that, with that announcement, they may no longer follow me and undermine my authority or put color to it and say that I’m using it for my candidacy. That would be painful,” Biazon said.

“Definitely, I will have to show that I can clean this up. With regard to my authority while I’m still here, I would just have to exercise it,” he said.

But House deputy speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, an LP member and also a prosecution spokesperson, is definitely clear about his political plans for 2013.

“Yes, I’m planning to run for the Senate,” Tañada, who is on his last term as Quezon representative, told reporters Thursday. With Leila Salaverria


'PNoy Still On OJT' (ON THE-JOB-TRAINING)By GENALYN D. KABILING May 17, 2012, 9:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — Two years into his presidency, President Benigno S. Aquino III Thursday declared that he still considers himself a “student” of governance, determined to avoid the mistakes of the previous administration.

The President acknowledged that he has “not mastered everything,” but said he is proud of how his administration, through good governance, has enhanced the country’s fiscal health and generated confidence from investors.

Aquino claimed that so far his greatest achievement is a change of people’s attitude from apathy to optimism and active citizenship.

“I had an opportunity to witness my mom when she was governing in a very similar, if not worst situation because there was no actual transition. But other than that, I won’t say that I have mastered everything. I do still keep to the tenets that the start of all knowledge begins with admitting you don’t know,” the President said in a forum attended by Wharton Alumni clubs in Makati City Wednesday.

“I also pride myself in being the consistent student so that I am not ensconced in a box where all what we are able to do is basically to repeat the mistakes of the past that we want to avoid,” he added.

While he reveled at the fruits of his reform agenda such as a robust stock market performance, Aquino maintained that there is “no room for complacency.”

“We’re working even harder to make sure that the confidence of the world – and indeed of our countrymen – does not waver, and continues to strengthen. Part of this includes making sure that our money works for the good of the country,” he said.

Asked about his greatest accomplishment he is most proud of, the President said: “When I see our people smiling, when I see that there‘s optimism, that there‘s a light in their eyes where they used to be really just sufferance; that I think is the best achievement and that will propel us to achieving even greater heights.”

Despite his resolve to fulfill his aspirations for the people, Aquino acknowledged there is still “resistance to change,” particularly coming from groups “that want to preserve the status quo where they have an unfair advantage.”

But Aquino asserted that he would continue to work “24/7 including holidays” to implement reforms to fight corruption and poverty and hopes to leave a better Philippines by 2016.

Asked about his legacy at the end of his term, the President said: “Perhaps it’s the means by which the people have achieved the change in the status quo, to have a transformed country. Something that existed only in what was considered by dreams but are now in actuality and I think that can be attained.”

In the same forum, the President tackled his administration’s efforts to increase power supply in Mindanao, promote responsible mining, and develop the use of alternative fuels in the public transport sector.

On the Mindanao power situation, Aquino said they have implemented stopgap measures, including repair and upgrade of existing power plants, the use of embedded generation units, and deployment of power barges. He said he hopes there will be sustainable energy in Mindanao not later than 2015 when coal-fired power plants have been built.

He said the government is still consulting with stakeholders about a new mining policy. He said the government has proposed a mining ban in 78 tourism sites in the country.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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