Aquino apologizes; Villar won’t explain Davao no-show
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Michael Lim Ubac, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III made a public apology while Nacionalista Party (NP) bet Manny Villar appealed for “understanding” in response to the sharp words the two leading contenders received for skipping a forum organized by a religious sect leader in Davao City on Tuesday.
Campaigning in Zamboanga City Wednesday, Aquino aired his apology to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, head of a sect called Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name, which claims millions of members and several radio stations.
“When I go to Davao I will seek an audience and explain to him, that it was something beyond my control,” said Aquino in a press conference at the Orchid Garden Hotel. “Getting a cold is something that I cannot schedule.”
Quiboloy, disappointed at the non-appearance of the top two contenders, had called them men with “no word of honor.”
Aquino said he had a cold after his visit to the Visayas last week which prevented him from flying to Davao on Tuesday, as he had promised Quiboloy.
“My doctor advised me to take medicines and he asked for at least two days of rest. I still have a cold at this time,” said Aquino. He said “there would have been no problem if he had everything under his control.”
But Aquino said he pushed through with his Zamboanga sortie Wednesday because he “could not hold it off anymore.” Aquino is set to go to Davao next week.
On the other hand, Villar, campaigning Wednesday in Kabacan, North Cotabato, did not reveal his reasons for not attending Quiboloy’s forum, adding, “We ask for your understanding.”
Before flying to Koronadal City, Villar told reporters he had many reasons—“a hundred reasons”—why he skipped Quiboloy’s forum as well as another one held at the Ateneo de Davao University.
“What happened should be left to us. We will just talk among ourselves,” he told reporters.
Villar said he had explained his decision to the organizers of the lawyers and businessmen’s forum, but did not elaborate.
“I have the same reason for both (forums), but I don’t want to specify. You know, the campaign exacts a heavy toll on the candidates, and sometimes it’s really hard for us to attend all the forums,” he said.
‘They blew it’
Meanwhile, in Naga City, veteran politician and Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino campaign manager Ernesto Maceda said the two top contenders lost their chance to get the religious group’s support.
“Pastor Quiboloy did not hide his displeasure and as far as I’m concerned, without meaning to preempt (Quiboloy’s group), that would imply that they’re out of contention as far as Quiboloy’s concerned for the moment,” Maceda said.
Maceda said only the PMP’s standard-bearer, deposed President Joseph Estrada, administration candidate Gilberto Teodoro and evangelist Brother Eddie Villanueva remain in the running for the endorsement of Quiboloy’s group.
But Estrada himself said he would not read too much into the situation.
“Medyo nagtampo lang siya (He was just a little upset),” Estrada said on Quiboloy’s reaction to the no-show of Aquino and Villar.