Miriam for president? No money – I never sold my body!

On running for president in 2016, Santiago says, 'I wonder whether people are not bored with me because I’m bored with myself'

NOT RUNNING. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago jokes that she has no money to run for president because "I never sold my body." Photo by Ayee Macaraig/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – “There are excessive estimates of P15 billion to P20 billion for the 2016 elections. I was not a member of the pork barrel scam so I don’t have this amount. I never sold my body so I don’t have this amount!”

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said she is not eyeing higher office in the 2016 election, and would rather support a female candidate and harness the power of social media.

After months of outlining the ideal qualities of the next president, Santiago said she is not keen on running for president again. 

“My main problem is I don’t have the money, period. What I have is rapport and I hope the support of netizens. That’s why I will try to help prove that social media will help determine the results of the 2016 elections, not just the presidency but all levels,” Santiago said on Wednesday, March 12.

Santiago ran for president in 1992 but lost to Fidel Ramos, who she has bitterly accused of cheating her in the polls. 

The senator said her health already bars her from fully carrying out her functions as senator, and assuming her role as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands. Santiago only attended Senate session thrice since the start of the 16th Congress, saying she suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome.

Santiago presided over a Commission on Appointments (CA) committee hearing on Wednesday but could no longer stay for the plenary session in the afternoon.

“I’m not looking for a job. I’m supposed to report at the ICC. As you can see, I can’t even finish my present functions as a member of the CA. Someone else will read the results of what happened to my committee hearing because I’m too tired.”

On the practical side, Santiago said she knows it cost P1 billion to P2 billion to run for president in the 2010 polls and she does not have the money for a presidential bid.

Instead of campaigning, Santiago is out to show that social media will be a gamechanger in the elections.

“We must listen to the netizens, people participating in the social media dialogue. These are young, educated and relatively well-off because they can afford to buy their portals. We are going to see for the first time the collective power of the young people as against traditional politicians and my money is always with the young people,” she added.

Cynthia, Grace, Loren possible

Asked who she will endorse, Santiago mentioned her female colleagues at the Senate.

“Of course it should always come from the Senate because the Senate is said to be the training ground for presidents. That will constitute Cynthia Villar and she has the money. Grace Poe because she was number one in the last senatorial elections, or Pia Cayetano but her brother already said he’s running so maybe he has preempted her, or finally Loren Legarda.”

The senator said other women in government can also vie for the post.

“[Maybe] somebody who might be making splashes in the House of Representatives or maybe somebody on the level of governor who has done extraordinary things in the province.”

She reiterated that having a female president will help the Philippines achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals promoting gender equality.

On Tuesday, Senator Grace Poe said she is unprepared for higher office and Santiago is the woman most qualified for the presidency.

Asked what will happen if netizens convince her to run for president, Santiago turned humorous.

“I wonder whether people are not bored with me because I’m bored with myself so I have to resolve that first,” Santiago said. –


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