Will it be a showdown between Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago in 2016?
This scenario came into focus on Wednesday when Santiago announced that she is willing to run for President if there are enough “like-minded” supporters led by Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas.
“I have licked cancer, and I’m actually thinking of several career options. By 2016, I will be disqualified by law to seek another term as senator,” Santiago said in a statement sent to Senate reporters.
She was reacting to a statement made by Bernas during a television interview aired over ANC news channel, that President Benigno Aquino 3rd should no longer seek a second term and allow other “good people” to lead the country.
Bernas, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that crafted the 1987 Constitution, said the attempt to lift the term limit of Aquino is not only against the spirit of the Con-Com but of former President Corazon Aquino, the incumbent leader’s mother.
Bernas added that the President should give Santiago a chance.
“I’m not going to be coy. Society leaders have urged me to seek the presidency. I can rise to the occasion, although I was following the other signposts on the road to recovery,” Santiago, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, said.
Last month, Santiago disclosed that she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and that she will be away for six weeks to undergo treatment.
The senator said on August 12 that St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City issued a report on a PET/CT Scan stating that the tumor in her left lung has regressed, meaning that it has become smaller.
“The latest lab test shows that the cancer cells are waving a white flag. During this time, I only have to work on my stamina. During the six-week period of treatment, I was even able to work on the 2014 editions of some 10 law books which are scheduled for release by the end of the year,” Santiago added.
If she decides to pursue her presidential bid, she said she may team up with other major political parties but not with Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
In the past elections, Santiago ran under her People’s Reform Party (PRP). But the senator said she is open to coalesce with the Liberal Party (LP) or the Nacionalista Party (NP) of former senator Manuel Villar.
“After I was diagnosed with cancer, Sen. [Villar] went to my house and told me, among other things, that my popularity level is very high. But he also said he is encouraging several hopefuls to raise their survey ratings,” Santiago said.
Two NP members– senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th–have expressed plans to also run for President.
The LP on the other hand is grooming Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd as the party’s standard-bearer although the President is yet to disclose who will be fielded by the ruling party.
In 1992, Santiago also ran for President but she lost to then-Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos, who had been endorsed by Mrs. Aquino.