De los Reyes ‘concedes’ presidency to Aquino
By DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The way it sounded, Olongapo Councilor John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes had conceded the presidency to Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
“Senator Aquino, there is a big chance that you will be the next president based on what the surveys are saying now. And I want you to succeed,” De los Reyes told the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer in his parting remarks at the 2nd Integrity and Human Rights Conference Tuesday at Hotel InterContinental Manila.
De los Reyes’ statement elicited a surprised buzz from the audience.
When it was Aquino’s turn to speak, he drew laughter when he started off with: “Thank you to Councilor JC for acknowledging that I have a good chance of running this country.”
But De los Reyes, the standard-bearer of Ang Kapatiran party, later described his remark as just a bit of sarcasm.
Asked if he was serious about conceding to Aquino, he told reporters: “No, I said it with a smile.
“I’m here to win. Let’s face it, [Aquino] has a big chance. But we have 70 plus days [before the elections], and I’m here to give it my all.”
De los Reyes went on to take a dig at the LP, saying it was not enough for a presidential candidate to commit to a moral, transparent and accountable government, and that his political party must do the same.
In a subsequent interview with the Inquirer, De los Reyes said he would never give up on the presidential race.
He said that with his remark, “I meant to impress upon the senator the need for a responsible and accountable political party for genuine reforms, not merely for an individual who would pursue a ‘personal ambition’ to catch a smuggler or a corrupt official responsible for substandard infrastructure within the first two weeks of his presidency, or who would share the pork barrel with friend and foe alike.”
He was quoting Aquino in an Inquirer report on Feb. 20 on what Malacañang would be if the senator wins the presidency.
“In behalf of Ang Kapatiran party, I will never concede in favor of any of the [other] presidential candidates,” De los Reyes said.
“The only thing I will concede is that the major political parties have failed this nation, particularly in passing key legislation pursuant to our Constitution that would have liberated our nation from the dynasts, oligarchs and the elite.”
De los Reyes also said simplifying the complex by getting down to core-policy issues affecting human rights would put clarity in the electorate’s bases for choosing who should be the next president.
He said this would prevent the risk of voters getting “drowned and confused” by the range of issues, including “peripheral issues,” being raised both in the media and in various forums.
“Oftentimes, these can already be addressed by the candidates’ stand on matters of greatest concern,” he said.
Earlier at the forum, there were slightly tense moments when De los Reyes urged Aquino to push the LP to be more accountable and transparent.
“All I’m saying is we really need a responsible and accountable political party. The political parties of before, even those in [the dictator Ferdinand] Marcos’ time, did not work to uphold the Constitution, like the provisions against political dynasties or the full disclosure of government transactions,” he said.
De Los Reyes said he was not questioning the LP’s moral authority.
“But I’m questioning the propriety of the kind of politics they’re conducting,” he said, adding:
“One person believes this, but it is not adhered [to] by the membership. There are no clear and specific aspirations.
“What is the stand of the LP and Nacionalista Party on [political dynasties]? What is their stand on the pork barrel? These are obstacles to the progress of the people.
“What is their stand as a party, not as a presidential candidate? That’s what we should ask. Whatever they say will be useless if they don’t take a party stand.”
De los Reyes also said he was not attacking the LP standard-bearer.
“It’s not him I’m hitting. It’s everybody who espouses this kind of politics that breeds irresponsible and corrupt political parties,” he said.
Neither Aquino nor Villar
Asked whom he would support if it became a two-man race between Aquino and Sen. Manuel Villar, another survey front-runner who was a no-show at the forum, De Los Reyes said: “After today, neither.”
He said Aquino appeared “peeved” by his remarks.
But the senator responded with a joke: “Yan naman ang hirap sa kaibigan natin (That’s the problem with our friend here)…”
He proceeded to point out that he and the LP were with De Los Reyes’ party in fighting the scrapped National Broadband Network deal with China’s ZTE Corp., among other irregular government deals.
But then, Aquino said, drawing laughter from the audience, “the media would now say we’re calling Kapatiran’s bluff (sasabihin naman sa media, pinapatulan namin ang Kapatiran).”
He added that the people, especially the poor, were more concerned with basic matters, like putting food on the table. With a report from Jerome Aning