‘Bro. Mike asked Erap to withdraw’
By Dino Balabo
The Philippine Star
MALOLOS CITY , Philippines – Former senator Ernesto Maceda yesterday identified El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde as the emissary of a presidential candidate who allegedly tried to persuade former President Joseph Estrada to withdraw from the presidential race.
El Shaddai spokesman Mel Robles denied yesterday that Velarde discused this directly with Estrada. A source in El Shaddai recalled a television interview wherein Velarde told Estrada “not to run.”
In an interview yesterday on radio dwIZ, Maceda did not directly identify the presidential candidate behind Velarde, but added in Filipino that “it’s easy to identify the presidential bet, because we know who was endorsed by Bro. Mike.”
Sources told The STAR that Sen. Manuel Villar was behind Velarde’s actions.
Velarde endorsed Villar and other Nacionalista Party candidates during a recent campaign rally abroad.
Sources also said that despite gaining in recent popularity surveys, Villar remains threatened by Estrada’s appeal with the masses.
Estrada’s support from the masses has not waned, re-electionist Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) said during the campaign rally in San Jose del Monte City last Wednesday night.
“I don’t believe in surveys, the campaign has just started, they are in for a surprise by May,” he said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, son of the former president and another senatorial bet of PMP, criticized Villar for imitating the campaign strategy of ex-President Estrada.
“There is a candidate who is imitating my father and claiming that he is also pro-poor. The candidate also imitated the color of PMP and he only lacks a moustache,” Sen. Estrada said.
He warned voters of the possible victory of Villar saying: “delikado ang Pilipino kay Villar (Filipinos will be in peril with Villar).”