Aquino invades Tondo, downplays Estrada’s surge in Mindanao
By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Liberal Party standard bearer and Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III campaigned on Saturday in the working class bastion of Tondo, Manila—a known bailiwick of deposed President Joseph Estrada—as he downplayed the increase in the former president’s poll numbers.
According to Aquino, he will be campaigning in Mindanao next week and that he expects to get more votes in the South, where Estrada’s poll numbers jumped by 9 points in the latest survey of Pulse Asia.
“There are still many provinces that we have yet to visit and we think we can visit them in the coming week. We will go to (Mindanao) next week and I think we can gain there,” Aquino said after a rally at the Del Pan Sports Complex in Tondo.
He was there for the signing of a covenant to help the urban poor, an apparent attempt to solidify his lead among other candidates in vote-rich Metro Manila.
Aquino, who got a national rating of 36 percent in the Pulse Asia survey, said he might even expand his current lead of 18 points against Estrada, who is in third place at 18 percent.
Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar is running second nationally at 29 percent.
Aquino’s running mate, Sen. Mar Roxas, pointed out that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had a survey showing that Aquino was leading there. He added that there were other surveys showing Aquino leading in Ozamiz City and Misamis Occidental.
He said that Estrada’s good showing in the South might be due to the former President’s “all-out war” policy against secessionist rebels.
“But it is also clear that Senator Noynoy is defending our independence and freedom although he is not for all-out war,” Roxas said.
Aquino noted that he has been maintaining his lead in the surveys despite efforts by the Arroyo administration to harass his allies by replacing police chiefs in their localities and fast-tracking the election cases against them.
“We expect that the administration and the forces who want the present to maintain their present perks to not give them up easily. They will unite and that is why we hear these reports of Villlaroryo because this represents present politics—you scratch my back, I scratch yours,” Roxas said, referring to rumors that Nacionalista Party standard and Senator Manny Villar has been the secret candidate of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo all along.
“We are doing all the preparations because this is not going to be an easy fight. They will do everything, legal or illegal, just to stop the strong current for change,” he added.
Villar has dismissed the “Villaroyo” rumors as nothing but black propaganda, saying that as Senate president, he and his allies pushed for the investigation of the anomalies attributed to the Arroyo administration. He said the Liberal Party headed by Aquino and Roxas was never at the forefront of these investigations.