Pinoy politicians want to be known as ‘Obama of Philippines’

By Christine Ong – MANILA: US president-elect Barack Obama’s victory has inspired Filipino politicians who are planning to run in the next presidential elections in 2010. Some of them are even touting themselves as the “Obama” of the Philippines.

Jejomar “Jojo” Binay is getting used to being called “Jo-bama” – a nickname that may well catapult him to become the next Philippine president.

The dark-skinned mayor said: “(With the name,) at least there is recall right away. My complexion is not due to sunburn. I probably got my complexion from my mother who is from the north. But surprisingly, she is fairer. It’s just me who got the darker genes.”

As mayor of the country’s financial district Makati for almost twenty years, Binay said he is now ready to assume a higher position in government. The head of the United Opposition believes that Filipinos will also look for change and reform in the 2010 elections.

“We have to get away from this kind of administration, where at the onset, her (President Gloria Arroyo) leadership is questionable,” he said.

Another opposition leader that is also being compared to the US president-elect is Senator Francis Escudero. The 39-year-old was placed second in the 2007 elections in his first attempt at a national seat.

“The two issues raised against him were the very same issues that were raised against me when I ran for the Senate and when I ran for the House – that I was too young and that I lack experience,” he said.

Escudero believes that Obama’s victory shows that there is demand for new and young leadership.

“Given the world’s problems right now, their gravity and seriousness, this is one of the few things that the Philippines can and should emulate from the US – the fact that they gave their young leaders a chance, the fact that their younger citizens took the cudgels and carried the burden for their country,” Escudero added.

But more than producing the Philippines’ version of the United States’ charismatic leader, the country will need to cultivate critical and discerning voters who will make the right choice for their next president.

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