Monday, September 28, 2009

Text msg on Marikina 'dam' release belied

MANILA - Authorities on Monday belied circulating text messages that water from the "Marikina dam" would be released, causing more flooding.

Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando said there is no such thing as a Marikina dam.

One such text message says: "If you have friends and families along Marcos highway, tell them to stay on a high area because authorities are about to open Marikina Dam. It will affect Marikina, Pasig area and lower Antipolo. So please pass for faster dissemination." Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense's Anthony Golez said there are no plans to release water from any other dam at the moment.

In an interview over ANC's on the Scene Monday afternoon, Golez said proper warnings will be given before authorities release water from filled up dams.

"Talking about misinformation, I would like to inform everybody that there is an ongoing text message that dams are going to be opened, that dams are going to spilling water into the different neighborhoods. Let me tell everybody that this information is not correct," he said.

"Even before we have to release water from our dams, we follow certain protocols. As a matter of fact, PAGASA, which is the overseer of the dams, follow certain protocols that even before they release water, they need to warn the communities that are situated within the area of these dams. And after they warn them for a certain period of time, then they are educated, the people are educated which are safe, which areas are not safe," he said.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Senate-House panels OK bill adding 9th ray to RP flag

The country’s national flag will soon have nine rays in its sun instead of only eight. The Senate and House of Representatives are expected to ratify next week the reconciled version of Senate Bill 3307 and House Bill 6424 which provides for the inclusion of additional ray in the sun, Senator Richard Gordon told GMANews.TV Thursday. The two bills proposed amendments to Republic Act No. 849, or An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms and Other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines. The bicameral conference committee approved on Tuesday, among others, the additional ray to the sun in the Philippine flag symbolizing the courage, bravery and integrity of Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation's independence. Gordon, chairman of the Senate panel and principal author of Senate Bill (SB) 3307, lauded the approval of the measure saying that it would foster greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion. He said the National Historical Institute initially opposed the proposal but he still pursued it. “I don’t care what they think about it. Once it is signed, they should follow the law." “We are a country that has had a conflict with our Muslim brothers for the last so many decades. I think this is a big step towards reuniting our country, recognizing the contributions of our fellow countrymen, the Filipino Muslims. We should recognize their deeds in our country," he said. The other members of the joint Senate-House panel were Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Representatives Del De Guzman, chairman of the House contingent, with Ma. Carissa Coscoluella, Salvador Escudero III, and Roman Romulo as members. Gordon said the national flag not only represents principles of sovereignty and solidarity of the Filipino nation, but also embodies the ideals and traditions of the Filipino people developed over the course of national history. He added that the flag symbolizes the nation’s struggle for independence and victory against foreign colonizers. The three stars in the flag represent the three major geographical divisions of the country: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao; while the eight rays of the sun represent the eight provinces that revolted against the Spanish regime, namely: Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac. The senator said he proposed the addition of the ninth ray because behind the stories of the most celebrated names of national heroes, who fought for the country’s independence, lie the stories of mostly-forgotten Muslim heroes, including Lapu-Lapu, Sultan Kudarat and Rajah Sulayman, who displayed courage, bravery and integrity against a determined foe.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

West apologizes to Swift, Obama weighs in on furor

LOS ANGELES - Rap star Kanye West personally apologized on Tuesday to country teen star Taylor Swift after a two-day furor over his hijacking of an awards speech that even drew an off-the-cuff comment from President Barack Obama.

Swift, 19, said she had accepted West's apology in a private telephone call made after she appeared on the ABC TV talk show "The View."

"He was very sincere in his apology and I accepted that apology," Swift told ABC News Radio after receiving the call.

But Swift, the biggest-selling artist of 2008 in the United States with more than 4 million albums, said West's actions had shaken her up.

"I'm not going to say I wasn't rattled by it," Taylor said on "The View." "I had to perform live five minutes later so I had to get myself back to the place where I could perform."

West had expressed regret twice on the Web and in a TV appearance on "The Jay Leno Show" for taking the microphone from Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, and saying that R&B star Beyonce should have won Swift's trophy.

His outburst drew boos from the crowd and celebrities and music fans voiced their displeasure with West, a Grammy winner whose hits include "Stronger" and "Heartless." A handful of radio stations in California and Florida said they would stop playing West's music in protest.

Even Obama entered the fray, calling West a "jackass" in an off-the-record portion of a political interview on TV given by the president gave this week. The remark was widely circulated by an ABC journalist who posted it on the social networking website Twitter. ABC swiftly apologized.

Sunday's outburst is not the first time West has made headlines for his behavior. In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, West said then President George W. Bush did not care about blacks.

Earlier this year, West was charged with battery, theft and vandalism over a 2008 scuffle with paparazzi in Los Angeles.

On "The Jay Leno Show" on Monday, West told Leno he needed to take "time off" to analyze and improve his life.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Preacher used juice cans to hijack Mexican jet

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - – A Bolivian preacher who hijacked a Mexican plane saying he was on a divine mission used three juice cans to convince crew members he had a bomb, he later told reporters.

Jose Marc Flores Pereira, 44, a Bible-carrying evangelical preacher, singer and former drug addict, surrendered to authorities here Wednesday after hijacking the Aeromexico Boeing 737 on a flight from the tourist resort of Cancun to Mexico City.

All 104 people on board -- most of whom had no idea they had been taken hostage -- were safely evacuated as security forces swarmed Mexico's international airport within minutes of the plane landing.

The airline said it was originally alerted to the situation after it "received a bomb threat while in flight," according to a statement.

"It wasn't a bomb," a smiling Flores Pereira told reporters after his arrest. "It was three Jumex (juice) cans that I filled with sand and put some little colored lights on."

Initial media reports that the hijacking involved multiple hijackers carrying explosives were later denied by Transport Secretary Juan Francisco Molinar Horcasitas, who said no explosives were found on the plane, only a fake bomb.

While Flores Pereira acted alone, Mexican officials said they originally detained five other people because the hijacker had told a flight attendant he was acting with accomplices, referring to himself and "God and the Holy Spirit."

Flores Pereira told authorities he acted to protect the country after having "a revelation that Mexico was facing a great danger, and was threatened by an earthquake," public security official Genaro Garcia Luna told reporters.

The priest, brought out for questioning by the media, told reporters his actions were linked to Wednesday's date -- September 9, 2009 -- because the numbers 9/9/9 were the opposite of 6/6/6 the numbers associated with the AntiChrist.

Flores Pereira had demanded to fly over the airport "seven times" and to speak with President Felipe Calderon, Garcia Luna said. Calderon canceled his afternoon meetings to head to the sprawling airport.

The alleged hijacker was also said to be a former prisoner and drug addict from Bolivia, who has lived in Mexico for 17 years.

His wife, Elsa Vergara, apologized to Calderon in comments reported by the local media in the southern city of Oaxaca near where her husband's church is located. She was quoted as saying that her husband suffered from "psychological problems."

In Bolivia, his mother Maria Pereira de Flores told local media he wanted to hijack a plane to speak to the Mexican president to urge him to preach the gospel from Mexico City's central square.

"If God sent him to do that, I bless him in the name of the Lord," she was quoted as saying.

Pilot Carlos Corzo said when the plane had landed "the first thing he did was show me some Bible verses; I tried really hard to gain his confidence.

"I told him that I am a believer, and that it is good to share the message, but that this was not the way to do it," Corzo told the daily Reforma online.

Thirty foreigners were among the passengers, according to diplomatic sources: 18 Americans, five Canadians, three French, three Bolivians, two Spaniards and a German.

"We only learned about it when we landed and we were informed by the crew over the radio that we had been hijacked," said passenger Rodrigo Padilla. "Everything was very quiet, there were no guns, no shots were fired."

In less than an hour, the drama had been brought to an end.

Television images showed chaotic scenes as the passengers, most dressed in shorts and T-shirts, descended from the plane, some carrying young children and clutching bags.

They were briefly made to sit on the tarmac by security forces, before being led away. The last to leave the plane was the captain, who had negotiated the release of the passengers with a woman air controller.

It was the first time the airline had suffered a hijacking since 1972, when leftist guerrillas seized one of its planes demanding the release of some of their fellow rebels.

The last hijacking in the region was in April in Jamaica, when an armed man took over a CanJet Boeing 737 due to fly from Montego Bay to Cuba. All 182 people on board were rescued unharmed when Jamaican police stormed the plane.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Singson refuses to go on leave

Denies using gov't resources in his marital row

MANILA - Refusing to heed advice from the Office of the President, Deputy National Security Adviser Luis Singson said he would not voluntarily go on leave and denied he used government resources in his marital conflict.

In a long distance telephone interview with ABS-CBN News and dzMM on Monday, Singson said he will not go on leave despite getting an advice from the Palace that he should do so out of delicadeza.

"Hindi ako magleleave dahil inosente ako diyan. Ako ang biktima rito. Hindi ako mag-leleave," Singson told dzMM in an interview with Vic Lima and Karen Davila.

Singson said he has not spoken with Mrs. Arroyo since the wife battering and torture allegations against him came up last week. He said the Office of the President can fire him if it wants to.

"Puwede nila akong tanggalin kung gusto nila," he said.

President Arroyo has ordered National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to investigate whether Singson misused government resources to case his wife and her boyfriend.

Singson admitted he had his wife investigated since he discovered her alleged affairs, but he indicated this was a private investigation.

He denied he used resources of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) for his domestic conflict, saying his office is too poor for this purpose.

"No, never. Hindi na kailangan gamitin," he said. "Pinasundan ko sa nag-susurvey. Hindi ko opisina yan e. Walang kaalam-alam ang opisina ko dahil opisina ko napakahirap. Yung 2 secretary ko up to now hindi sumusuweldo [sa gobyerno] e."

In one instance, Singson said the men he had ordered to follow and investigate his wife and her boyfriend nearly killed them both had he not intervened and told them not to do so.

"Kung wala ako doon, baka napatay na yung dalawa. Kung di ako dumating doon, namatay na sila," he said, denying that these people were not his bodyguards.

He also said he believes that wife battering is bad, pointing out that he had given Tiongson a chance.

Gonzales, meanwhile, said he will be talking to Singson Monday night upon his arrival from China. He clarified that Singson is not yet under investigation, adding that he considers his deputy's marital troubles as a personal tragedy.

"This is a very personal issue so maybe before I say anything I want to talk to him first and listen to his side. I can order an undersecretary to take a leave if it is needed. Chavit is one of our our most seasoned politciians. He can understand what is happening, how our situation is constantly evolving and the implications of his case...He may make his own decision on what is best for everyone," he told radio dzMM.

He added that he personally called up President Arroyo and told her that he wanted to speak to Singson.

He also said he does not believe that Singson would use government resources to spy on his wife. "Chavit has a lot of resources so it won't be surprising if he used his own. Besides, I would immediately know if he used government resources and so far no one has reported anything to me," he said.

Take a leave out of delicadeza

President Arroyo on Monday said she was "alarmed and seriously concerned" about the wife-battering charges leveled against Singson, and advised the official to voluntarily take a leave of absence out of delicadeza.

In a press conference, deputy presidential spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo assured the public that justice will be served in the ongoing marital row between the 68-year-old Singson and Tiongson.

"The President as a woman as well as the head of our government is alarmed and seriously concerned by such charges against a person who is regarded as part of her circle, though not part of her official family,” Fajardo said in her opening statement.

While no administrative case has been filed against Singson, Fajardo said the former Ilocos Sur governor could take a leave of absence "out of delicadeza" instead of waiting for Mrs. Arroyo's instruction.

She said the President has ordered National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to investigate whether Singson used official government resources to spy on Tiongson and make the necessary recommendations.

Asked her personal opinion about the matter, Fajardo said that no one should be considered above the law.

“We feel very strongly about this... I feel very strongly about this. I’m mad. I’m angry. We are professionals as well. This is a personal matter between the governor and his family. Any violence should not be tolerated. But he should be subjected to rule of law," she said.

She added that women should be loved and respected, and that any form of violence against women should not be tolerated.

Physical abuse, torture

Singson is considered one of the most influential politicians in the country. His testimony in the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada in 2000 led to the fall of the Estrada administration and the rise to power of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in January 2001.

Singson virtually admitted last Wednesday over dzMM that he beat up his wife last month after discovering she had an affair, and added she should be thankful he didn't kill her.

In an exclusive interview last week with ABS-CBN's Ces Oreña Drilon, Tiongson showed pictures of her badly-bruised face and arms allegedly caused by the beatings she suffered at the hands of Singson last August 22 after he found her with her boyfriend in an apartment.

She said Singson beat her up and even lashed her using the whip he uses to discipline his pet tiger.

Singson and his bodyguards also allegedly undressed Tiongson's boyfriend, took pictures of his penis, beat him up, and tortured him.

Singson's arrogance assailed

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Leila de Lima on Saturday assailed Singson for his arrogance, and urged Tiongson to file a human rights complaint against her husband.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, de Lima lamented Singson's statement in media interviews, including with dzMM and ABS-CBN News, that Tiongson and her boyfriend should be thankful he did not kill them for their affair.

"As a government official, he [Singson] is covered by the Code of Conduct of public officials. Kaya tamang pinagsabihan siya ng Palasyo, especially since he holds a public position. He is a powerful man and hindi dapat ganyan, fino-flaunt yung power. To me, there's arrogance there," de Lima said, when asked to comment on the incident involving Singson and his wife.

Under Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Ethics for Government Officials and Employees, public servants are supposed to respect human rights and to act with "justness."

A provision in RA 6713 states: "(c) Justness and sincerity - Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest...."

De Lima said the fact that Singson is a high-ranking official of the National Security Council "makes it more imperative na kailangan malaman talaga kung ano ang kanyang pananagutan diyan."

"To me, all the more that it should be deplorable because he's a powerful man, and hindi puwede yung ganun-ganun lang. And then you know, totoo ba yun? Na when he was interviewed, he even said, 'Buti nga hindi ko pinatay.' The mentality is there is alarming," she said.

De Lima said Singson could face administrative sanctions for violation of the Code of Ethics.

"We can recommend or not for possible prosecution and other sanctions like administrative," she added.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Teen daughter defends Chavit, 'My mother's not a battered wife'

MANILA, Philippines - The eldest daughter of Deputy National Security Adviser Luis “Chavit” Singson yesterday denied that her mother was a battered wife, contrary to what she said was being pictured in the media.

In a videotaped statement delivered to the office by one of Singson’s close associates, the 15-year-old girl disagreed with her mother, Rachel “Che” Tiongson, and practically absolved her father of any wrongdoing.

“What I know is that my Mom was never a battered wife. When she lived in this house she was living a happy life and if my Dad did purposely hurt her I would have seen it in her face or anything. But she was never really beaten up when she lived in this house,” the daughter said.

Tiongson earlier came out in the open and accused Singson, her live-in partner for 17 years, of physically beating and abusing her and her “boyfriend.”

Along with the videotape were four “love letters” dated July 8, 13, 21 and 22, 2009 allegedly written by Tiongson to the former Ilocos Sur governor.

Another undated letter shows a breakdown of items, which Tiongson was supposedly asking from her live-in partner.

“Just wanna thank you again for my medicines, etc. But Love, may kulang pa yung pinahihingi kong favor yesterday and (I) just write it here again,” the letter reads, apparently to explain the wherewithal of the amount of money that was being asked.

“I was shocked but at the same time I think what’s being shown in the news right now is a little bit exaggerated. My Dad is not like that,” the teenage daughter said.

The girl also explained that her parents were trying to fix things up and Singson even bought an apartment close to her mother’s house so that he could be with them and her siblings “any day or every week.”

“I know my Dad and I know that when my Mom left the house they were trying to fix things so I don’t know why they’re saying (that) they were separated when they’re trying to fix things,” she added, referring to her mother’s allegation that they had been estranged.

In an earlier interview, Tiongson said she finds nothing wrong with having a boyfriend because the two of them had already been separated since November last year.

She said she broke off with Singson because of his relationships with other women, some as young as their teenage children.

“Hi Love. Good morning. How are you today? How was your meeting? Is it doing well? I wanna hear more positive results from you and hope that you’re not that busy anymore. When are you free? So I can see you and sana you have more time to spend it with me,” part of the July 8 letter reads.

On Aug. 22, Tiongson said the 68-year-old Singson beat her up with a whip after barging into her rented apartment while she was having dinner with her boyfriend, a certain Richard Catral.

Telltale signs

Tiongson’s July 21 letter started with a verse taken from Deuteronomy 31:6, “He will not leave you nor forsake you,” and followed by a series of apologies for something that was not explained.

“First of all, humihingi ako ng kapatawaran sa mga nagawa kong pagkakamali at kung nasaktan ka man sa sulat ko, again I’m really sorry. Mayroon pa bang magbabago sa akin ngayon.”

The next day, Tiongson, in the same apologetic manner, wrote again but this time asking the governor to help her settle an apparent debt from a well-known department store.

“Love huwag ka na magalit sa akin please. Sorry na at please lang rin help me na lang kase last na naman ‘yan eh. Nakikiusap at nilalambing ko na sa’yo… Bayaran na lang natin ‘yung Rustan’s kase tinawagan na ako eh, hindi naman pwedeng magtago na lang ako,” the letter reads.

Four of the five letters were practically a monologue of how she needed money to maintain her and her children’s lifestyle, and how she pleaded to the former governor to replenish her dwindling allowance.

In her July 22 letter, Tiongson begged Singson for a fixed allowance aside from other amount to cover certain payables.

“At Love, pwedeng bigyan mo na lang ako ng fix amount para sa monthly ko tapos ‘yung mga electric, association dues, water, cable sa check mo na lang. What do you think?”

Singson: We’re never separated

Singson presented the same letters in his television interviews to belie the allegation that they were separated since November last year.

Siya mismo ang naghahabol sa akin. Siya ang humihingi ng reimbursement. Araw-araw may note sa akin, may I love you, I love you pa. So hindi totoo ang sinasabi niyang hiwalay kami (She was the one after me. She was asking for money, for reimbursements. Everyday she sent me notes, saying I love you, so it’s not true we’re separated),” he said the other day.

Singson, in an interview with ABS-CBN, also said he has evidence to prove that he is legally married to Tiongson, adding that it was up to the court to act on the complaint filed against him.

Kung nakikinig siya, lahat ng sinasabi niyang kasinungalingan, kakainin niyang lahat dahil may ebidensiya ako na hindi kami hiwalay (If she is listening, she will eat all those lies she said because I have evidence to show that we are not separated),” he added.

But the former Ilocos Sur governor said that if Tiongson insists on her claim that they are separated then he would accept it.

Ok lang hiwalay kami (It’s fine if we are separated). Good riddance. Pinaalis ko na noon eh, siya ang bumalik-balik (I kicked her out before, she just kept coming back),” Singson said.

He, however, emphasized that he will fight for the custody of their children and if Tiongson wins the court battle he would refuse to give support.

Mabuti pa sunugin ko na lang ang pera ko (I’d rather burn my money),” he said.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Chavit Singson Case

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang yesterday asked Deputy National Security Adviser Luis “Chavit” Singson to “behave” and submit himself to the law as he faces possible criminal charges for beating up his common-law wife and her lover.

However, President Arroyo, who has been championing women’s rights, would likely wait for the outcome of the investigation before taking any action on Singson after his fitness for the job was questioned following the incident, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said.

Singson, a close ally of the President, said shortly after the incident he was thankful that he was able to restrain himself from killing them out of anger.

Remonde said he was not able to take up the matter with Mrs. Arroyo “but I think the victim has already filed a case in court and then we will await the developments.”

He said Mrs. Arroyo will act on the matter and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales would have to submit a recommendation.

“We advise undersecretary Singson to behave accordingly as an upright citizen and to submit himself to due process of law,” Remonde told a news briefing.

Asked whether the Palace was beginning to doubt the capacity of Singson to continue working in his sensitive post, he said the matter depends on the outcome of the case.

“It is not for the Palace to evaluate his performance because he has a superior in the person of (National Security Adviser) Norberto Gonzales,” he said.

Remonde said he was not aware of whether government intelligence facilities were used in the surveillance of Singson’s common-law wife.

When contacted by The STAR, Gonzales said he has yet to discuss the matter with his deputy.

“This (incident) is a sensitive and personal issue for him so I’ll wait for him to talk to me about it. But I’m sure that he will talk to me about this when he has recovered,” Gonzales said.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Arroyos still need to explain wealth rise

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her two sons in Congress still have a lot of explaining to do regarding the rise in their wealth since they stepped into public office, an opposition lawmaker said Wednesday.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said the Arroyos should personally explain the wealth stated in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) when the House, through House Resolution 1358, holds an inquiry into the effectiveness of SALNs in determining public officials' real net worth.

"It has never been adequately explained how in just three years, from 2002 to 2005, Mikey increased his net worth by P71.9 million, or from P5 million to P76.9 million. And then in 2009, this further increased to P99 million. Definitely, he could not have amassed such wealth on his salary as a public official. But his SALN fails to indicate how he did it," said Casiño.

Mikey’s wealth reportedly ballooned from the time he got married to wife Angela in June 2002 and became Pampanga vice governor in 2001-04. He was elected congressman for Pampanga’s 2nd district in 2004 and got re-elected in 2007.

In an interview over GMA's Unang Hirit on Tuesday, Mikey said a large part of his recent wealth came from generous wedding gifts and campaign donors.

Alam niyo nung kinasal tayo nuon, medyo nagkaroon tayo ng maraming regalo. Tapos pag kampanya, siyempre kahit papaano marami ding tumutulong sa atin. Hindi naman sa nakaipon, pero siyempre nakakagaan ng kaunti and we had some good investments," he explained.

(You know, when I married my wife, we received plenty of gifts. And during campaign periods, we had plenty of donors. It’s not that we hoarded donations but these helped lessen our personal expenses and we were able to make good investments).

The presidential son also said, “In 2002, I was a vice governor. I only became congressman in 2004, under the law assuming you make mistakes in your SAL, you can always amend it the next year as long as you pay the proper taxes," he explained.

Hindi pa tayo marunong mag-declare nun, so siyempre those shortcomings are amended the next year," the Pampanga representative added.

But Casiño said the First Family's explanations of their wealth were insufficient. "If we simply look at their SALN, the logical conclusion is that these unexplained wealth could have come from illegal sources, or at least were acquired without proper disclosure."

The militant lawmaker said the President has also failed to explain the dramatic increase in her net worth from P67 million in 2001 to P144 million in 2008.

"We need the Arroyos to explain what happened so that Congress can be guided in coming up with legislation on how to improve the system. If it is true, as Mikey says, that everything was legal and transparent but there just might have been some mistakes by his lawyer who filled up the form, then he should not fear the House investigation. We can even help in making sure he does not commit any mistakes the next time around," Casiño added.

Questions arose over the SALNs of Mikey and his brother, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado "Dato" Macapagal Arroyo, following a Vera Files report saying the brought luxury US homes in the US after they got elected as congressmen. The two, however, denied any irregularity in their SALNs and maintained that they declared everything that needed to be declared.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Noynoy to seek 'divine guidance' for 2010 election (updates)

MANILA - Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Wednesday announced that he will be going on a retreat this coming weekend for "divine guidance" for his plans on the 2010 presidential elections.

"This weekend, starting tomorrow actually, I will be going on a spiritual retreat as I pray for discernment and divine guidance," Aquino said in a prepared speech.

He also implored his supporters to pray with him, and said he hoped people are one with him in the "difficult struggle ahead."

"I urge you to pray with me so that you too can assess your own readiness to take part in the difficult struggle ahead. We are hopefully in this together," he said.

"Hindi ko po tatalikuran ang hamong ito, sana'y kasama ko kayo sa labang ito," Aquino said.

"Sa mga nalalabing araw ng aming pagluluksa at pagdadalamhati sa pagpanaw ng aming mahal na ina, sisikapin ko pong taospusong sagutin ang katanungang ito. Sana maunawaan po ninyo ang bagay na ito," Aquino said.

Aquino made his announcement in front of members and supporters of the Liberal Party at a press conference at Club Filipino in San Juan.

Noy thanks Mar

Aquino's announcement came a day after Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II announced his withdrawal from the 2010 presidential race to give way for an Aquino candidacy under the LP.

In his speech on Wednesday, Aquino first thanked Roxas for his "sacrifice" in withdrawing from the 2010 race, in favor of party unity and the sake of the nation.

"Umaapaw po ang paghanga at paggalang ko kay Mar sa kanyang pagsasaaalangalang ng kanyang personal na ambisyon para sa pagkakaisa ng aming partido at para sa higit na mataas na mithiin na kapwa namin inaasahan para sa aming taumbayan," Aquino said.

"Senator Roxas's sacrifice is the finest example of selflessness that our nation sorely needs in this morally troubled times," he said.

He also echoed Roxas' call for personal sacrifice.

"Tulad po ng kanyang sinabi kagabi, kalimutan po natin ang ating mga sarili dahil ang laganap na pagtingin sa pansariling kapakanan ang mismong ugat ng kasakiman at pagkawatak-watak na sumisira sa ating lipunan," he said.

Noy, Mar one in their fight

Aquino said he and Roxas will be one in their fight.

"Kasama po ako ni Mar sa malaking laban na ito. At sana, kasama rin naman ang bawat Pilipinong naniniwala sa aking kalinisan ng loob, at ng karamihan ng ating mga kababayan at naghahangad ng isang bansang tunay nating maipagmamalaki," he said.

He also said that this is not really an issue about him or Roxas.

"Ang usapin pong ito ay di tungkol sa akin o kay Mar. Ang mahalaga pong malaman ay kung kasama namin kayo sa misyon ng tunay na pagbabago. Hindo po madali ang misyong ito dahil matindi ang kabulukukang bumabalot sa ating lipunan. Nguni't hindi imposibleng makamit ang ating mga pinakamimithi para sa Pilipinas. Ito ay magsisimula sa bawat isa sa atin," he said.

He made his announcement at the historic Gabaldon Room, where his mother, the late former president Corazon Aquino, took her oath of office in 1986.