Estrada mum on offer to withdraw
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SANGAY, Camarines Sur—Former President Joseph Estrada on Thursday opted to continue keeping secret the identity of the fellow presidential candidate who supposedly offered to reimburse him his campaign expenses in exchange for withdrawing from the race and supporting the candidate.
“That’s a tall order,” said Estrada to reporters covering his campaign.
Estrada said now was not the time to make the revelation and that he would have to think it over ten times before doing so. He added that he wanted to conduct his campaign “on a high level.”
“They can always deny it. If there’s no room for deniability, then I will say it,” he said.
Estrada was asked the question after Sen. Jamby Madrigal revealed on Wednesday that a fellow candidate had offered her P1 billion to withdraw from the presidential race.
Earlier, Sen. Richard Gordon, another presidential candidate, said he was approached by an emissary of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar with an offer of a Cabinet post and reimbursement of campaign expenses to withdraw.
Estrada was the first to reveal an offer but he has remained the most steadfast in keeping the identity of the candidate to himself.
Only Villar among the presidential candidates has a declared net worth of more than P1 billion.
Thursday, Estrada did not want his briefing with reporters to end after learning that he was the most covered presidential candidate on the two major networks and the government television station.
“I’m still enjoying [this],” he told his spokesperson Margaux Salcedo after she reminded him that it was time to move on to the next stop.
Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, who hosted the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino ticket at his residence here, had earlier reminded Estrada that it was time to continue with the motorcade.
“That’s very surprising,” said Estrada after learning of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s (CMFR) findings that from Feb. 9 to 27, he had received the most airtime on the prime-time newscasts of ABS-CBN, GMA 7 and NBN.
“I always try my best to endear myself to the media,” he told the reporters.
The media can “either make or break you,” he said, alluding to his own experience of being ousted from office in 2001 after the media played up the plunder and other charges against him that led to his impeachment and trial.