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As I See It

Let’s hear it from Bam Aquino

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Senatorial candidate Paolo Benigno Aquino was the lone guest at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday. He talked about a lot of things but what interested many of the journalists present was why he was nicknamed “Bam,” which can easily be misspelled as “Bum,” especially because he has decided to wade into the murky world of politics.

He said his parents got the name from the little-boy character “Bam Bam” in the cartoon series “The Flintstones.” The name has since stuck.

Bam is a member of the Aquino political dynasty which has produced two presidents, three senators, two representatives, and many other local elective and appointive officials in the government, and with at least two more running in next month’s senatorial race. So naturally he was asked about his position on political dynasties, and whether he would, if he becomes a senator, vote for a bill outlawing them.

Like other members of political dynasties when asked the question, Bam said it must first be determined what is meant by “political dynasty.” Up to what level of consanguinity should be included in a political dynasty? Should it be only parents and children, or more?

If it is the former, Bam said, then he is not included because he is only a cousin of the incumbent President.

He also said, however, that he does not think this is the right time to amend the Constitution. We should attain more political stability first, he said. “My take is that it is stronger political parties that will make political dynasties moot,” he said.

That may be true, but right now it is the political dynasties that control the major political parties, like the Team PNoy and UNA (United Nationalist Alliance) coalitions. Both senatorial slates are peppered with members of political dynasties. And it is worse in the local elections, with political dynasties calling the shots in almost all provinces, cities and towns. Even barangay officials are starting their own dynasties. The captain in our barangay, who had merely changed places with his wife, is now fielding her as a candidate for councilor.

Neophyte congressman Manny Pacquiao is another sorry example. He may be a boxing champion, but as a legislator he is worse than Sen. Lito Lapid, or maybe worse than Nancy Binay if, God forbid, she becomes a senator. Pacquiao has not done anything during his first term as representative of Sarangani (in fact, he was absent most of the time but still collected his salary, allowances, and pork barrel without fail), but already he has formed his own political dynasty in his home province. He is fielding his wife, Jinkee, as candidate for vice governor, and his brother as candidate for mayor. These two have no qualifications to be public officials apart from being relatives of Pacquiao, who is not qualified to be a legislator either. His knowledge of parliamentary procedure, for instance, is zilch, zero, nada, nothing, wala.

Somebody asked Bam if his cousin, Kris Aquino, is really going to run for vice president in the future. He said he does not know if that’s true, and does not think so. (Someone texted me to ask Bam if being queen of massacre movies and of taxpayers and having three estranged husbands in so short a time qualifies her to be vice president or senator. But of course I did not ask that.)

I asked Bam what made him decide to run for senator and what he would do if he becomes one.

He replied that microfinance would greatly help our entrepreneurs and unemployed. Helping them get small loans to start small businesses means giving them a livelihood and helping the economy grow, he said, adding that his experience in this field would help the Senate craft legislation to spread microfinancing to those who need it.

He emphasized that the repayment rate among the poor is very high—98 percent—in contrast to the low repayment rate among the rich.

Asked what he would do to help create more jobs, he said the only way to do that is to attract more investors to put up more factories and businesses, but because of a number of factors—high power rates, lack of infrastructure, red tape, traffic jams—investors are not so eager to jump in.

But with microfinance, he said, budding entrepreneurs will be helped to create jobs for themselves and for others.

What is his position on the pork barrel?

Bam replied that the pork barrel, deodorized as the Priority Development Assistance Fund, helps start many needed development projects in the provinces. Admitting that the pork barrel is sometimes the source of corruption, he said it should be accompanied with more transparency and accountability.

* * *

Did you watch the musical “Mamma Mia,” with Pierce “James Bond” Brosnan and Meryl Streep, nonsingers both, singing songs composed, written and originally sung by the singing group Abba? Or perhaps you watched the theatrical production? Do you sing “Dancing Queen” in the bathroom? Do you like to listen to “Chiquitita,” “Mamma Mia,” “I have a Dream,” or “Thank you for the Music” on the stereo?

Here is your chance to see and listen to the original Abba live, right here at your doorstep.

“ABBAMania,” touted as the original Abba tribute band, is on a seven-city concert tour in the Philippines. It has performed in Cebu and Puerto Princesa and will perform in Bacolod tonight. It will be in Davao City on April 27 and in Cagayan de Oro on April 28.

Metro Manilans will have a chance to see them tomorrow, April 25, and on April 29 at the Resorts World Manila in the Global City in Taguig.


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