MANILA, Philippines – As President Benigno Aquino III has no spouse, his 4 sisters – Ballsy, Pinky, Viel, and Kris – have to take turns assuming the roles and duties of a first lady.
His youngest sister, Kris, in particular, has had her fair share of involvement in PNoy's presidency. As a popular celebrity and being most conspicuously in the public eye among the sisters, Kris has been criticized for her actions involving politics and has spoken up for her brother more than once.
And whether people agreed with her or not, Kris' words and actions with regard to Aquino's presidency were always points of much discussion.
Before the President's term ends on June 30, let's take a look back at Kris' past 6 years as the presidential sister.
In 2011, Tropical Storm Sendong hit Mindanao, leaving hundreds of people dead.
Soon after, PNoy drew flak from social media users, after actress Valerie Concepcion tweeted, thanking the President for laughing at her jokes and enjoying her performance at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Christmas party.
His sisters, however, defended him in an episode of Kris' now-defunct show, KrisTV. Ballsy said PNoy did intend to visit the areas hit by the typhoon and the party was scheduled long ago. It's a tradition for the President to attend the PSG party every year, she said, to thank them for taking care of him and his family.
In the episode, Kris also explained why she and her sisters defended their brother: "I think hindi 'nyo po maiaalis sa amin na gusto naming idepensa ang kapatid namin (You can't take away our instinct to defend our brother). The entire night, also Saturday, when we were together, he was constantly on the phone monitoring everything. I think today ang pagpunta ko [sa area] (I'm going to the area). Although I’m going with ABS-CBN, I’m also representing him."
PNoy signed the Reproductive Health Law in December 2012, after years of struggle led by advocates and lawmakers, and in the face of strong criticism from the Catholic Church.
A few months before the law was enacted, Kris said that then Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) vice president Socrates Villegas texted her, seeking the attention of the president and asking her to rethink her stand on the issue.
Villegas, who is now president of the CBCP, was a close friend of the Aquino family, especially the late president Cory Aquino.
At the time, Kris said she wasn't sure what to say to him, because she wasn't an elected official, but his messages did make her think more about the issue. She added that she forwarded Villegas' messages to her brother.
"Siyempre naiintindihan ko talaga na iba 'yung tinuturo ng simbahan, pero nauunawaan ko naman talaga. In my opinion, ang na-interpret ko dun sa sinabi niya [Villegas], na hindi manghihimasok ang gobyerno dun sa desisyon ng mag-asawa, kung papalakihin nila ang pamilya o hindi," said Kris.
(Of course I understand that the Church teaches something different, but I really understand what he's trying to say. In my opinion, what I interpreted from what Villegas has said is that the government shouldn't interfere in the decision of a married couple on whether or not they should grow their family.)
Prior to talking about Villegas' messages to her, Kris expressed that she was pro-life but also a supporter of the RH Law.
Kris, James Yap – and PNoy? (2013)
Screengrab from Instagram/kriscaquino
A year after their marriage was annulled in 2012, Kris Aquino filed a temporary protection order (TPO) against James Yap, whom she said made unwanted sexual advances towards her, at her home, in front of their son, Bimby Aquino Yap.
Following news of the TPO, James said that during the alleged encounter, Kris reminded him, "Don't forget, my brother still has 3 years in office."
An emotional Kris, along with her 3 sisters, clarified the incident on live TV soon after, denying having said the line about PNoy's remaining years in office.
She added, "Kung kapangyarihan ang pag-uusapan natin (If we're talking about power), why was he able to hurt me so many times?
"Nung naghiwalay kami, sino bang unang pinuntahan ni James? Ang pinuntahan niya si Noy. Anong ginawa ni Noy? Sinabihan ako ni Noy, 'Problema mo 'yan eh, wala kayong prenup.'"
(When we split, who did James run to? He went to Noy. What did Noy do? He told me, "That's your problem, you don't have a prenup.")
Mary Jane's execution was did not push through in April 2015, after the surrender of her recruiter, whom she accused of duping her into flying to Indonesia and bringing a suitcase with 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in its lining.
Kris said on Instagram: "I kept quiet w/ the endless attacks against PNoy because that was his reminder to me, but today it is my right and my privilege to say, I AM PROUD of my brother. I AM PROUD OF MY PRESIDENT."
President Aquino had appealed to the Indonesian government to spare Mary Janefrom execution, along with social media users, Filipino citizens, and concerned groups.
Screengrab from Instagram/kriscaquino
For the first time since 1996, the Philippines hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 2015. Kris and her sisters were tasked with entertaining the spouses of the leaders who visited our country.
All was well, until she posted a photo online of the sunburn she had gotten while touring Manila. In the caption, she lightheartedly compared her situation to the hardship commuters endured during the APEC summit – the government closed several major roads in Metro Manila that time, causing heavy traffic and forcing commuters to walk for hours to get to work.
After social media users called her out on her insensitivity, Kris apologized for her words, saying, "I humbly apologize for my failed attempt at self-depracating humor Thursday night that came across as being spoiled and insensitive."
Kris on PNoy's absence at PNP SAF welcome honors (January 2015)
File photo by Rappler
PNoy was noticeably absent at the Villamor Airbase at the arrival ceremony for remains of 42 of the 44 slain elite cops killed in the Mamasapano encounter. They died during a clash with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on January 25, the single biggest blow on the Aquino administration.
Instead of attending their welcome honors, PNoy chose to stick with his original schedule to attend the inauguration of Mitsubishi plant in Sta Rosa, Laguna. The president's decision drew flak online, even after Malacañang explained that he had not planned to visit to begin with, given that he would be at their necrological services the next day. Palace officials also said the President wanted to finalize his assistance to the families of the fallen soldiers.
Online, Kris battled critics in the comments section of her Instagram account, saying that her brother took 12 hours to speak to the families of each of the fallen: "You keep focusing on not being in Villamor, when it is assuring them of justice, of assistance, and interacting as human beings that he did."
Kris also visited the families of the slain cops, saying on Instagram afterwards, "Not one of them spoke to me harshly or blamed me in the way I had to endure from those who have the ability to post but not the will to do actual good."
Photo from Aviator Pinoy's Facebook page
Kris drew flak when photos of her alighting from a presidential helicopter made the rounds online in April.
During the campaign period, Kris joined her brother in different events across Visayas, including rallies for the Liberal Party (LP).
"The photos clearly have no other explanation but the brazen use of government machinery to further the campaign of Mar Roxas," Kabataan Party-list Representative Terry Ridon said in a statement.
Malacañang defended Kris, saying that the president's immediate family may ride with him on official government vehicles, and PNoy himself said that he doesn't see what people are criticizing, given that Kris is one of the country's biggest taxpayers.
At a rally in Hagonoy, Bulacan, Kris told the crowd that she did it because she did not want to keep them waiting.
Abu Sayyaf kidnap threat (April 2016)
Fans were surprised when Kris announced that she was taking a break from showbiz in March after 20 years with her home network, ABS-CBN. Kris cited health reasons at the time, adding that she'll spend more time with her kids and that she'll focus on her other business ventures.
On April 29, Kris revealed that she had another reason for lying low – she knew, before PNoy told the public, that the Abu Sayyaf plotted to kidnap her and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.
"I didn’t renew with ABS-CBN because of this threat," she said.
The presidential sister added: "That was a painful decision, but I needed to make that judgment call so as not to expose others to harm. It was that serious that I walked away from a new two-year contract for a job I’ve loved for 20 years. I informed my bosses the pertinent facts, but not full details from the intelligence reports, and they kept what I was allowed to relay to them under wraps. I was told to strictly keep the news contained and I obeyed. And I am grateful for the respect I was shown." – Rappler.com