It’s official—after much thought, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary and former DLSU President Br. Armin Luistro FSC has announced his plans of running for Vice President in the upcoming 2016 Philippine national elections.
While the DepEd Secretary has yet to finalize an affiliation with a political party, recent reports suggest that he will be running alongside incumbent Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, as both secretaries have close ties with President Benigno Aquino III.
In an exclusive interview with The LaSallian, Br. Luistro shares the details of the road to his candidacy and how his Lasallian upbringing has greatly shaped his political ideologies.
Luistro shares that his personal growth as a Lasallian Brother and educator has helped him decide to run in the 2016 national elections. With all the knowledge and experiences he has gained after being exposed to the Lasallian educational system since his formative years in grade school, he believes he can finally take a step further in serving his countrymen.
“Faith, service, and communion are the three Lasallian core principles I want to apply in the government and impart to the Filipino people,” says Br. Luistro. “Faith alone is not enough,” he continues, “because our faith must be interconnected with genuine public service for the betterment of this country.”
Apart from the Lasallian core principles, just as evident in Br. Luistro’s decision to run for public office is his emphasis on education. Like St. John Baptist De La Salle, Br. Luistro believes that education is the key to guiding the country towards progress. During his time as DepEd secretary for the last five years, Br. Luistro has witnessed aspects of the country’s educational system that greatly need improvement, and how the country’s problems in education are closely intertwined with a host of other issues outside of his duties in the Department.
“When you have the heart and mind to serve the Filipino people, you will continue doing so. This has been my motivation since then, and it is what eventually led to my decision to run,” shares Br. Luistro.
The liberal affiliation
Br. Luistro admits that President Aquino himself was one of the key people who urged the Brother to run for the position. Indeed, he and Br. Luistro go a long way back. Br. Luistro once delivered a homily during the wake of former president Corazon Aquino, and said that his closeness with the Aquino family was born out of their connection during the 2005 Hello Garci scandal. When Aquino won the presidency in 2010, he appointed the Lasallian Brother as DepEd secretary.
Knowing of the Brother’s background in education, Aquino thought that Luistro could benefit the country greatly by advocating for education-based solutions.
“I asked him [Aquino] why he appointed me as DepEd secretary. His answer was simple—because of my passion and hope for a better education system in the country,” Br. Luistro shares, recalling a conversation he had with the president sometime ago.
The brother adds that the president thought about fielding him to run for Vice President during that exact conversation. “He was describing my seriousness regarding my work until he grinned and told me, ‘Alam ko na! Br. Armin, you’d actually be a good Vice President.’ Of course, I was flattered, but I had to think about it. Being a Vice President, after all, is a serious responsibility.” He recounts that it took some time for him to process the possibility of filing for candidacy, but the president was very determined to field him.
“It came to a point where the president was going to my house almost every week to ask about my decision,” mentions the Brother. “Who could say no to that? So I decided that I was going to run, but if and only if we we’re going to use the color green during campaign. It took him time to process the compromise, but he agreed, and here I am, ready for the elections,” he concludes.