April 2010

1 of 4 voters intends to guard votes –survey

1 of 4 voters intends to guard votes –survey
By Jesus F. Llanto
abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak

MANILA, Philippines–For every 4 voters that will go to the polls in May, 1 intends to watch the counting of votes, according to a special survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The survey was conducted in February 2010 to determine the planned personal activities of Filipinos voters for the May elections.

It showed also showed that 1 out of 5 wants to get involved in groups helping to have an orderly and clean election.

The survey also showed that intention to watch vote counting is highest in the rest of Luzon at 31% and lowest at the Visayas at 20%. The figures for Mindanao and Metro Manila are 25% and 21%, respectively.

Intention to watch the counting of votes is higher among classes ABC at 27% than classes D (23%) and class E (22%).

The intention to get involved in organizations that help ensure clean and orderly elections is highest in Mindanao. “Those who plan to serve for organizations that will help in having an orderly and clean election is slightly higher in Mindanao (25%) and Metro Manila (21%) than in Balance Luzon (18%) and Visayas (17%),” the survey showed.

At the national level, intention to serve for organizations helping in the conduct of election is at 20%, while only 11% of Filipino voters they want to post campaign posters.

Rallies, posters

“Registered voters have varied planned activities for the May 2010 elections: 26% plan to watch the counting of votes, 23% attend political rallies and 20% serve in organizations that will help in having an orderly and clean election,” the survey showed.

Other planned activities for the May elections, the survey showed, are as follow:

  • Being a watcher for a political candidate (15%)
  • Putting up posters for politicians (11%)
  • Actively campaigning for a political candidate (9%)
  • Being a member of the Board of Election Inspectors (3%)

The results of the recent survey are similar to results of three pre-election surveys conducted in 2007.

“In the three pre-election surveys of 2007, to watch vote-counting and to attend political rallies were also the top planned activities for the May 2010 national elections,” SWS said.

Active Mindanaoans

Voters from Mindanao, among the major island groups, are the most intent on attending political rallies. “Intention to attend political rallies to listen to candidate’s platforms is highest in Mindanao (37%),” the SWS said in its survey. The figure for Mindanao is higher than those from the Visayas (20%), the rest of Luzon (19%), Metro Manila (15%), and the national figure of 23%.

Mindanao voters also have higher intention of putting up campaign posters of candidate and actively campaign for a candidate than their counterparts in other areas. “Twenty three percent in Mindanao intend to put up posters of candidates, the highest across all 4 areas. It is 8% in the rest of Luzon, 7% on the Visayas and 6% in Metro Manila,” the survey showed.

Intention to actively campaign for candidates, the survey also showed, is higher in Mindanao at 15%. This is higher than the figure for the rest of Luzon (6%), and the 9% for the Visayas and Metro Manila.

The survey was conducted from February 24-28, 2010, using face-to-face interviews of 2,100 registered voters, divided into random samples of 300 in Metro Manila and 600 each in the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. It has a margin of error of of±2.2% for national percentages, ±6% for Metro Manila, and ±4% for the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak)

Arroyo’s ally has power of life and death

Arroyo’s ally has power of life and death
Inquirer Mindanao, Inquirer Visayas

Read Part 1: Congress won’t end reign of political dynasties

Read Part 2: 109 years of Ortegas in La Union; Gordons, Magsaysays in Zambales

Read Part 3: Little has changed in politics and poverty in S. Luzon
(Last of four parts)

MANILA, Philippines—Nothing could be more brazen a display of power by a political dynasty than having a street, village, or even town named after it for a single reason—no one dared question it.

Such is the complete control of the Ampatuan clan, a staunch ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, over Maguindanao until the mass murder of rivals and journalists on Nov. 23 put the province on media spotlight.

That the massacre happened in Ampatuan town was no coincidence. Everywhere in the province, the Ampatuan name is etched in the same way hot iron brands cattle. The main suspect in the killings, Andal Ampatuan Jr., is mayor of Datu Unsay, a town in the province named after one clan member.

A rival clan, the Mangudadatus, is as entrenched but occupies a territory smaller than the Ampatuans’. Their reign over their domain, however, is as firm.

Mindanao and the Visayas teem with such blood relationships pumped into the veins of the islands’ politics and government.

Caraga: 5 clans under control

Caraga [Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Island] has a voting population of 1.2 million, but the number of families in control can be counted with the fingers.

In the regional capital of Butuan City, the Plazas are one of them. Leonides Theresa is running for mayor to replace her husband, Democrito II. A son, Randolf, is running for councilor. A brother, Roscoe, is running for mayor of Nasipit town in nearby Agusan del Norte.

Democrito Plaza II’s sister, Gov. Valentina Tina, is now candidate for representative of a newly created district. A brother, Adolf, is running to take her place.

Another sister, Evelyn Plaza-Millana, is in the congressional race in the second district, which will be vacated by Rodolfo, now running for senator.

Agusan del Norte has the Amantes. Erlpe John, incumbent governor, wants another term. Sister Angelica is gunning for second district representative, which their father, Edelmiro, is vacating.

Edelmiro’s nephew, Ferdinand Jr., is up against a relative, Leonides, in the city’s mayoral race.

In Surigao del Norte, former Gov. Robert Lyndon Barbers is running for Surigao City mayor. Brother Ace, incumbent governor, is seeking reelection.

The Matugas clan is the only formidable opponent of the Barbers. Sol, wife of reelectionist first district Rep. Francisco Matugas, is seeking the governorship. Francisco’s elder brother, Ernesto, is running for Surigao City mayor.

In the lone congressional district of Dinagat, cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. is unopposed. His mother, Glenda, the incumbent representative, is running for governor and his sister, Jade, for vice governor. Two other siblings are unopposed in the mayoral races in two towns.

In Surigao del Sur, three-term Gov. Vicente Pimentel Jr. will relinquish his post, hopefully to brother Johnny.

Pimentel Jr. is running for mayor of Carrascal town, their political stronghold. An older brother, Alexander, the incumbent mayor, is running for reelection against a relative.

Dimaporo country

The Dimaporos still dominate politics in Lanao del Norte.

Imelda Quibranza or Angging, wife of outgoing Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, is seeking the congressional seat in the second district. Their daughter, Aliah, wants to replace her father as representative of the first district, while their son, Khalid, is seeking a second term as governor.

The Dimaporos are facing no formidable opponents.

Abdullah is a son of Mohammad Ali Dimaporo, one of the most powerful Mindanao politicians during the dictatorial rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.

The Dimaporos started its hold to political power when Ali won a congressional seat in 1949.

N. Cotabato: 6 Piñols running

Six of 11 Piñol brothers in North Cotabato are seeking different positions.

Vice Gov. Manny Piñol plans to become governor again; Rep. Bernardo Piñol Jr., Magpet Mayor Efren Piñol and Mlang Mayor Lito Piñol are up for reelection; Ferdinand Piñol is running for mayor of Matalam; and Pat Piñol, for vice mayor of Kidapawan City.

The Piñol brothers refuse to be called a dynasty. In a text message, the vice governor said those calling them a dynasty are themselves members of political dynasties.

While her father, Roger Taliño, is running for mayor in Carmen town, Emmylou Lala Taliño Mendoza, is in the gubernatorial race. Her husband is a nominee of the party-list group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines. A brother is running for councilor.

Cerilles turf

The province is Cerilles territory. The family’s reign started in 1969 when patriarch Vicente was elected member of the Marcos’ parliament, Batasang Pambansa.

Second district Rep. Antonio Cerilles sees nothing wrong with one family lording it over “for as long as the people accept you.” He plans to swap seats with his wife, Gov. Aurora Cerilles, while their son, Ace William, is reelectionist mayor of Dumalinao town.

Aurora’s brother, Canuto Enerio, is running for mayor of Lakewood town.

Jalosjos power base

The Jalosjoses have kept their base in Zamboanga del Norte. Lately, however, the family is expanding its presence to as far as Zamboanga Sibugay and Misamis Occidental.

Romel Jalosjos is running for governor in Zamboanga Sibugay, while Romeo Jalosjos Jr. is a candidate for second district representative. Svetlana Pal Jalosjos, daughter of child rapist and former Rep. Romeo Jalosjos, is vying for mayor of Baliangao, Misamis Occidental

Cesar Jalosjos is running for third district congressman. Nephew Frederick Seth Pal, son of Romeo, is running for first district representative. Another relative, Johanna Jalosjos, is running for provincial board member.

One obstacle on the Jalosjos path is another clan, the Hofers.

Gov. George Hofer is on his last term and is keen on becoming mayor of Ipil town. Planning to take his place is daughter Dulce Ann. Son Jet is running for second district representative.

Bukidnon: Like pineapples

The Zubiris have become an integral part of the political landscape as pineapples have become Bukidnon’s agricultural lifeblood.

Gov. Jose Zubiri is running for vice governor. Son Jose Miguel Zubiri is incumbent senator. In the third district, Jose Ma. Zubiri III, is seeking reelection as representative.

Standing in the clan’s way for total dominance is another clan—the Acostas. Former Rep. Nereus Acosta is running for senator. Mother Ma. Socorro, also a former representative and mayor of Manolo Fortich town, wants a House seat again.

Camiguin: The Romualdos

Aside from its mangoes and festival, the island of Camiguin is known for its political clan—the Romualdos. Pedro is seeking reelection as congressman, while son Jesus is running for governor.

Iloilo: 2 clans clashing

In Iloilo, two clans are fielding the most members in the May 10 elections—Tupas and Garin.

Seven members of the Tupas family, led by incumbent Gov. Niel Tupas Sr., are running. In 2007, four family members ran and won.

Niel Sr. is running for fourth district representative, while his son Raul, incumbent Barotac Viejo mayor, is running for governor. Another son, Niel III, plans to take over Raul’s post, while yet another son, Niel Jr., is running for a second term as fifth district representative.

Two other sons are running—Nielo for provincial board member and youngest child Nielex for councilor of Iloilo City. A son-in-law, Parly Balleza, is running for councilor of Banate town.

The first district is traditional bailiwick of the Garins. Oscar Jr., incumbent board member, is running for vice governor. His wife, reelectionist Rep. Janette Loreto, and his sister, Christine, mayor of Guimbal town, are unopposed.

His mother, San Joaquin Mayor Ninfa Serag-Garin, is running for a third term. Another relative, Sharon, is a nominee of the party-list group Aambis-Owa. The family patriarch, Oscar Garin Sr., is currently Philippine Coconut Authority administrator.

Rep. Ferjenel Biron is seeking reelection in the fourth district. His father, Barotac Nuevo Mayor Hernan Biron Sr., wants a second term, while his brother, Dumangas Vice Mayor Hernan Biron Jr., is running for provincial board member.

House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Arthur Defensor Sr. (third district) plans to regain his post as governor, while his son and namesake, provincial board member Arthur Defensor Jr., seeks to replace him in Congress.

The Salcedos still rule the town of Sara and are expanding their presence to the provincial level. Neptali Salcedo Sr. is running for mayor to replace his wife, Mayor Ermelita Salcedo. Their son, Neptali Jr., is running for reelection as vice mayor, while another son, Jesus, is running for provincial board member.

Antique: Zaldivar vs Javier

The Zaldivars and Javiers are dominant in Antique.

Last-termer Rep. Exequiel Javier is running for governor, while his son Paolo Everardo is running for congressman against Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez, a last-term governor. Perez’s nephew, Calixto III, is running for reelection as provincial board member.

Guimaras: Navas again

In Guimaras, Rep. Joaquin Carlos (JC) Rahman Nava and his brother, Gov. Felipe Nava, are both seeking second terms.

Aklan: Power couple

Aklan Rep. Florencio Miraflores is seeking a third term. His wife, Maria Lourdes, wants a second term as mayor of Ibajay town.

Vice Gov. Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo is seeking a second term. Her brother, Teodoro Calizo Jr., is unopposed in the mayoral race in Balete town.

Marañons rule

The Marañons have become one of the most dominant political clans in Negros Occidental.

Sagay Mayor Alfredo Maranon Jr. is now running for governor, while his son, Alfredo III, is seeking reelection for second district representative.

A nephew, Sagay Vice Mayor Leo Raphael Cueva, is running for mayor, while another nephew, Joseph Gerard, is running for vice mayor against another relative, Kent Javelosa.

Four members of the Dela Cruz clan are running for another term in Don Salvador Benedicto town—Marxlen for mayor; his mother Cynthia for vice mayor and father Nehemias, for first district board member; and brother Nehemiah Joe, for councilor.

Genaro Alvarez is retiring as representative of the sixth district so he is fielding his lawyer-daughter, Mercedes, to take his place. His son, John Paul, is running for mayor of Ilog town to replace the current mayor, his wife Joyce.

Lourdes Socorro Escalante plans to replace her husband Manuel for mayor in Manapla town, and Judith Coscolluela, for husband Esteban in Murcia town, who is running for third district representative.

Patrick Escalante wants to replace his brother, Mayor Salvador Escalante of Cadiz City, who is running for board member.

In Himamaylan City, Agustin Ernesto Bascon is running for mayor in place of his mother Carminia Bascon, but he is being challenged by an uncle, Antonio Gatuslao. In Sipalay City, Vice Mayor Oscar Montilla is running for mayor in place of his mother, Soledad Montilla.

Cebu: Osmeña, Garcia, Rama

How many names sound familiar in politics in Cebu? They’re quite easy to remember—Osmeña, Rama and Garcia.

Tomas Osmeña, outgoing Cebu City mayor, is running for congressman. His wife Margot wants to become a councilor.

Seeking another term are the Garcia patriarch, Pablo, for second district representative, his daughter, Gwendolyn, for governor, and his son, Pablo John, for third district representative. Alvin Garcia, Gwendolyn’s cousin, is running for mayor.

Bohol: Emerging dynasties

Leading the emerging dynasties in Bohol are the Chattos of Balilihan town and the Cajes family of Trinidad town.

Third-termer Rep. Edgar Chatto is running for governor. His mother, Victoria, is no longer running for reelection as mayor of Balilihan, to give way for her nephew and vice mayor, Dominisio.

Edgar’s brother, Efren, is running for vice mayor. A brother-in-law, Jose Antonio Veloso, is challenging Dan Lim in the mayoral race in Tagbilaran City. Lim’s nephew, John Geesnell Yap II, is running for councilor.

In the second district, outgoing Rep. Roberto Cajes is swapping positions with his wife, Trinidad Mayor Judith Cajes.

Elpidio Jala, a retired education superintendent, is running for governor. His nephew, incumbent Rep. Adam Relson Jala, is giving way to his father, Eladio. But Eladio withdrew his candidacy to accept an appointment as commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission in a deal believed meant to eliminate any opponent for Arthur Yap, former agriculture secretary who is now unopposed in the congressional contest.

In the first district, Board Member Cesar Tomas Lopez is seeking reelection like his brother, Loon Mayor Lloyd Peter Lopez. Their cousin, Rene Relampagos, is running for congressman.

Three Jumamoys are running for another term in the second district—Josephine Socorro for board member; son Jose Jono for Inabanga mayor; and sister Jovanna, for councilor.

Board member Amalia Tirol, wife of former Gov. David Tirol, is running for mayor of Ubay and is fielding her daughter, Mutya Kismet Tirol-Macuno to take her place. Her sister-in-law, Nuevas Tirol-Montes, is in the vice mayoral race in Tagbilaran.

Another board member, Maria Fe Camacho-Lejos, is running for mayor of Getafe against her estranged nephew, Vice Mayor Cary Camacho. The third mayoral candidate, Manuel Monillas, is a brother of outgoing Mayor Teresa Monilla-Camacho. Camacho-Lejos is supporting her brother, Feliberto Camacho, as her replacement.

Also running for board member is Dr. Romulo Cepedoza, provincial vice president of the Association of Barangay Captains. His brother, Danao Vice Mayor Jose Cepedoza, does not have any rival like their cousin, Danao Mayor Louis Thomas Gonzaga.

Also a candidate is former board member Godofreda Olavidez-Tirol, who had served three terms. Her husband, former board member Victor Tirol, is a younger brother of the former governor and Tirol patriarch.

More familiar names

In Negros Oriental, Rep. George P. Arnaiz is running for reelection. His brother, Apolinario, is running for board member and another brother, Apollo, is running for mayor against sister-in-law Sally Brown, wife of Apolinario.

Jocelyn Limkaichong wants to be reelected for first district representative, as well as her husband, Lawrence, for mayor of La Libertad town.

Gov. Emilio Macias II is running for reelection. His son, Edwin, incumbent board member, is running for councilor of Dumaguete City.

Valencia Mayor Rodolfo Gonzalez Jr., on his last term, is running for vice mayor with his brother, Enrique as the mayoral candidate. Another brother, Freddie, is running for councilor.

Basay Mayor Beda Canamaque, also on his last term, is now aspiring to become vice mayor with his wife, Nochelyn, to take his place.

Guihulngan Mayor Ernesto Reyes is running for reelection with son Carlo as running mate.

In the town of Zamboanguita, Mayor Kit Mark Adanza is running for reelection while his father, Board Member Marcelo Adanza, is running for third district representative.

Samar: Grandma, ma, son

Milagrosa T. Tan, who was suspended for 60 days for a graft case, is on her last term as governor of Samar. She was seeking a congressional seat but was disqualified for not being a natural-born Filipino. Her daughter, Sharee Ann, is running for governor with her son, Stephen James, as running mate. Stephen James’ wife, Councilor Stephany U. Tan, is running for reelection. Stephany’s father, Catbalogan City Mayor Coefredo Uy, is running for reelection.

Standing in the way of the Tans are the Figueroas. Catalino, a former congressman, is running again for the same post. His son, Neil, is running for reelection as mayor of Zumarraga town.

Biliran: 2 rival clans

Two clans in Biliran stand in the way of each other.

Gleen Chong’s bid for reelection as representative is opposed by Rogelio Espina, a former governor. Both belong to the two most powerful families in the town. Gleen’s father, Charles, is up against Rogelio’s brother, Gerardo, in the gubernatorial race.

Gerardo Espina Sr., a former representative, is running for mayor of Kawayan town in tandem with his son, Rodolfo. His daughter, Roselyn Espina Paras, wants to become vice mayor of Naval town.

Leyte: Mother and son

In Leyte’s fifth district, Carmen Cari is running unopposed for mayor of Baybay City. Her running mate, also unopposed, is son Michael, the incumbent mayor. A cousin, Carlos Jericho Petilla, is unopposed in his bid for a third term as governor. Jericho’s mother, Remedios, is running for mayor of Palo town.

In the fourth district, incumbent Rep. Eufrocino Codilla Sr. fielded his son, Eufrocino Jr., to replace him. He is challenged by actor Richard Gomez.

Two other Codillas are in the race for another term—Eric for Ormoc City mayor and Elmer for Kananga mayor.

In the second district, former presidential adviser and former Rep. Sergio Apostol is again seeking a House seat. His wife, Trinidad, is running for mayor, while their daughter, Anlie, incumbent Carigara mayor, is running for board member.

The Romualdezes rule Tacloban City. Seeking another term are Alfred, the mayor, his wife Cristina, a councilor, and a cousin, Ferdinand Martin, the representative.

Mercados in, Yñiguezes out

When the Yñiguez clan lost power in Southern Leyte with the death of former Speaker Nicanor Yñiguez, the Mercados filled the vacuum.

Brothers Roger and Damian Mercado are now the powers-that-be in the province. Franklin A. Caliguid, Carlo Agamon, Julie S. Alipala and Grace Cantal Albasin, Inquirer Mindanao; Nestor Burgos Jr., Chito A. Fuentes, Carla P. Gomez, Alex Pal, Vicente S. Labro and Jani Arnaiz, Inquirer Visayas

Congress won’t end reign of political dynasties

Congress won’t end reign of political dynasties
By Tony Bergonia
Philippine Daily Inquirer

(First of four parts)

MANILA, Philippines—Congress’ refusal to pass an anti-dynasty law could just be one more proof that, quoting Henry Kissinger, “power is an aphrodisiac,” says former Sen. Rene Saguisag.

No anti-dynasty bill ever reached the floor of either chamber of Congress for voting.

“Your search yielded no result,” went the reply on the House website when a search on the subject of political dynasties was made.

It might as well be the epitaph on the tomb of the anti-dynasty measure.

“Delicadeza,” Saguisag says, is the single most important ingredient lacking in the continuing process to stop political dynasties, “but it is long dead and gone.”

The 1987 Constitution left no room for interpretation in Article II, Section 26: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties …”

However, it left the task of defining dynasties and putting flesh into the prohibition to Congress, one institution teeming with legislators who are either patriarchs or products of clans or families that maintain fiefdoms in regions, provinces, towns or cities.

“The 1987 Constitution made it impossible to serve long so families just spread the bounty,” Saguisag says.

When the late President Corazon Aquino restored Congress and its two chambers, the task of writing a law that would enforce the constitutional ban on dynasties took the life span of a Stage-4 cancer patient.

“Resistance was natural,” Saguisag recalls those days at the Senate when he and other supporters of measures to implement the anti-dynasty provision argued their case before colleagues, who had other priorities than to help kill their own emerging dynasties.

Subtle, strong opposition

The attempt to pass a law didn’t go very far, he says. Opposition was “subtle but strong.”

Saguisag’s episode in public service could be a good example of how power should be handled—reject it outright or simply succumb to it. Except in two instances at the prodding of Ms Aquino, he has made the first choice.

“I don’t know, but it was easy for me (to reject power),” Saguisag says.

One instance, when he had to give in was on Feb. 25, 1986, “when at dusk, I was asked to serve (by Aquino).”

“’Ne (his term of endearment to Ms Aquino), you’ll continue to be my spokesman,” Saguisag recalls Aquino as telling him that day. “I was speechless, looking down at my shoes a long, long time.”

When he tried to resist, Saguisag says, “I got an earful, along with Joker (Arroyo).”

“You were among those who pushed me to run. Now you won’t even help me,” Saguisag recalls Ms Aquino telling him and Joker. “I was an accidental public servant privileged to serve a providential president.”

The temptation, however, didn’t stop there. Soon after agreeing to help Ms Aquino during the transition period, Saguisag recalls, a bigger offer came his way.

“In January 1987, I was given a signed Supreme Court appointment,” Saguisag says in written replies to questions e-mailed to him by the Inquirer. “I said no to it.”

In his foray into public life, Saguisag made himself noticeably scarce only twice—when he ended his term as senator and faded into the background, and when an accident claimed the life of his wife, Dulce, and wounded him for life.

Finding time to reply in writing [he begged off from a face-to-face or phone interview] to the Inquirer request, Saguisag recalls his brushes with power as temptation.

“My wife and I said no to various offers,” he says. “Offered one Cabinet position, she said to me ‘argument over.’”

Speakership fight

Saguisag’s ability to resist power is easy as the struggle to enable the constitutional ban on dynasties is tough.

Journals of the House of Representatives, which keep records of daily sessions, are replete with this passage on anti-dynasty bills: “To the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms.” It simply meant put it on the back burner.

One instance when the dynasty issue became big at the House, however, was during the 2007 speakership fight between Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. of Pangasinan and Rep. Pablo Garcia Sr. of Cebu.

Struggling to keep his hold on the top House post, De Venecia raised the dynasty issue against the Garcias.

On Aug. 13, 2007, at the height of the fight, De Venecia’s ally, Rep. Arthur Defensor, filed House Bill No. 783, “Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2007,” that would outlaw “alarming situations where the father is the governor, the mother is the congresswoman, while the son is the mayor.”

A House press release on Aug. 13, 2007, quotes Defensor as saying that political dynasties are “anathema to our democratic life and characteristic of the patronage system of politics that has been a hindrance to our development.”

Defensor’s bill, however, won’t bar relatives from handing power over like they do pieces of property in inheritance proceedings. It isn’t as ugly as “unpleasant situations” of several relatives occupying government positions all at the same time, Defensor was quoted as saying. “This bill is different.”

De Venecia, another House press release says, “deserves to be reelected to a fifth term (as Speaker) after showing unflinching support for the anti-dynasty bill.”

Nothing was heard of again of the anti-dynasty bill after De Venecia won. The journal passage continued: “To the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms.”

The bill went nowhere even if it, according to Defensor himself, meant to exempt from the dynasty prohibition officials holding positions “where decision-making is made through deliberations and consensus,” like seats in Congress.

Level of priority

Another bill, this time filed by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, was consolidated with Defensor’s work.

When he was Senate President, now presidential candidate Manuel Villar was asked what level of priority he was giving the anti-dynasty measure.

“We can prioritize it depending on our colleagues,” Villar says at a November 2006 press conference with reporters at the Senate.

“But we all know that we’re running out of time,” he says.

“What we are giving priority to now are the ones that already passed the committees. There’s still hope for those that haven’t passed the committees. But, of course, they’re not top priority because it’s just normal for us, it’s just logical for us to act first on those that are already on the floor.”

Sen. Francis Escudero, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws, says in a press conference three years later that his committee has reported out an anti-dynasty bill filed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

“But as one of those who would be affected by the bill,” he says in a press conference in June 2009, “I inhibited myself although I first reported it out.” Escudero’s father is currently a congressman in Sorsogon.

The younger Escudero says Congress really has no choice but to pass an anti-dynasty law because it was clear in the 1987 Constitution.

Conflict of interest

“The problem,” he says, “is for each senator and congressman to look closely at themselves in the mirror and ask if they have conflict of interest.”

“Because if they do,” Escudero continues, “they should inhibit themselves and not participate in deliberations on this bill to leave those who do not have conflict of interest in relation to the anti-dynasty bill.”

In a transcript of that press conference, a reporter asks Escudero how many legislators he believed would be left if everyone with conflict of interest on the anti-dynasty issue inhibited themselves.

“No matter how many are left, the configuration and definition of a quorum could be adjusted to pass this bill,” he replies.

Why Villar ratings fell: He’s been on defensive

Why Villar ratings fell: He’s been on defensive
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The adverse publicity hounding Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manuel “Manny” Villar has taken a toll on his campaign and it will be difficult for him to catch up with Liberal Party presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, political analysts said Thursday.

“(Villar) should have … shifted his strategy from merely defending himself to going on a counteroffensive,” said professor Bobby Tuazon, policy director of the University of the Philippines-based Center for People Empowerment and Governance.

“Since the beginning of this year, the camp of Manny Villar has been the target of negative stories that have a negative impact on his credibility and integrity,” Tuazon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Tuazon said that it was difficult for a presidential candidate to remain on the defensive because the positive effects of being perceived as an underdog would not last.

“It would have been more prudent for the handlers of Manny Villar to devise a more flexible approach,” Tuazon said.

Tuazon said the Villar camp could have done a better job of questioning Aquino’s preparedness, leadership and performance.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said Villar’s problem was two-fold.

One was how to arrest his own slide in the surveys in the remaining days of the campaign and the second was how to catch up to Aquino.

“[Villar] wasn’t able to surge ahead in March and in April. It’s unlikely that he would be able to catch up at this time,” Casiple told the Inquirer.

“This has the makings of a landslide win for Noynoy,” he added.

Machinery crucial

Tuazon, however, said a candidate’s machinery would still be crucial in ensuring that one’s popularity translates into actual votes.

“Manny Villar has been preparing his machinery,” Tuazon said. He said Aquino should do the same.

Many local leaders from the administration party have defected to the NP.

The latest Pulse Asia survey doesn’t determine the outcome of the presidential election, said Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes.

“It just tells candidates what they should do (in the remaining days of the campaign),” Holmes said.

Insignificant increase

Asked about former President Joseph Estrada catching up with Villar for a tie in second place, Holmes said it was more of Villar losing ground rather than the former president gaining more voters.

“That’s marginal. That’s insignificant,” Holmes said of Estrada’s 2-percentage-point increase in the latest survey. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Villar’s slide, however, was “borderline significant” at 5 percentage points, Holmes said.

One of the developments at the time of the survey was Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s allegation that Villar influenced the Philippine Stock Exchange board of directors into relaxing its rules and allowing the sale of Villar’s own shares in his Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., despite a lockup provision.

The Estrada camp alleged that Villar unduly raised billions of pesos from the transaction and that he was using P5 billion to fund his campaign.

RICHARD J. GORDON: Step up to the plate, swing that bat

RICHARD J. GORDON: Step up to the plate, swing that bat
By Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer

(First of a series)

During a debate on the Manila campus of De La Salle University, Sen. Richard Gordon waves a thin black and white contraption roughly the size of a notebook. “Kindle,” he shouts.

“Here’s a little computer where you can put the entire school curriculum, from Grade 1 to high school to college. Every kid in public school should have one because he who reads, leads,” Gordon exclaimed.

Gordon talked about providing the country’s 17 million public school students with the Amazon.com product and raising the quality of education in the process.

“The government purchases textbooks for public schools. Oftentimes, these books are full of errors. That’s why we have book scams left and right. Why not get a Kindle for every student, download the accurate, factual books needed for the year, do the same every year. So every school year, we just buy new Kindles for the incoming Grade 1,” he explained.

Gordon later admits the plan is simplistic but doable.

Gordon tells reporters that a P0.50 tax on every text message could fund this e-book project.

If there are 2 billion text messages sent every day, he says, that could raise P365 billion annually, enough to buy a $100 Kindle made in China for each pupil and even raise teachers’ monthly salaries to P40,000 from P12,000.

“Our education is now on the level of Zambia and Tanzania. Education should not be a choice. Poverty is the absence of choice,” the senator says.

Gordon, who is running for president in the May 10 election under his newly formed Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines Party, fancies himself a “transformer,” pointing to his record as a no-nonsense mayor of Olongapo City.

In the early 1990’s, Gordon captured the country’s attention when he elevated Olongapo from a honky-tonk town hosting American servicemen at the then US Subic Bay Naval Base to one of the country’s more progressive cities.

Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991 devastated Olongapo and hastened US troop departure from the base following the Senate’s rejection of the extension of the Philippines’ bases treaty with the United States.

Rather than grieve, Gordon reinvented himself as chair and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and became the most prominent salesman of the former naval base as a trade and investment hub.

With its duty-free shops and the first class facilities in the base that was previously off limits to Filipinos, Subic became a prime domestic tourist destination. Olongapo was swept in the boom.

Gordon sought to instill discipline among his constituents, plastering signs all over the city declaring that “bawal ang tamad sa Olongapo,” or laziness is not allowed.

“Everything I did in Olongapo was a reaction to colonial culture. We have Juan Tamad who is a bad role model,” says Gordon, who served as mayor for a dozen years.

Gordon boasts that Olongapo was the first city to have tricycle drivers wearing uniforms.

Public utility vehicles were color-coded long before the scheme was adopted in Metro Manila to ease traffic jams.

But Gordon also had another reason for the project. When his father James L. Gordon, Olongapo’s founding father and its first mayor, was assassinated in 1967, the attackers escaped using tricycles. He figured that public vehicles and drivers should be identified easily.

In 1998, Felicito Payumo replaced Gordon as SBMA chief. Pundits trace a reason that went all the way back to 1992, the election year after the Senate’s rejection of the US Bases Treaty.

Posters showing the faces of the so-called “Magnificent 12” senators who voted for the rejection of the treaty were hoisted around Olongapo. People were told not to vote for them.

The urban legend goes that when Sen. Joseph Estrada, one of the Magnificent 12, became president six years later, he appointed Payumo to the SBMA to get back at Gordon.

Besides, Gordon was perceived to be more sympathetic to the Americans, a detail that could hurt the newly elected Estrada’s pro-poor image.

Asked if he considers himself a nationalist, Gordon was quick to respond: “Why shouldn’t I be?”

Gordon grew up in an Olongapo with a hovering American presence. “The bases were rammed down our throats,” he said.

Humble origins

Gordon grew up in a comparatively affluent family with humble origins. His father was a cochero—a driver of a horse-drawn carriage. He built a hotel, a grocery store, a bakery, a piggery, a fleet of jeepneys, movie houses and four restaurants.

The father taught the senator and his siblings—Veronica, Barbara, Cecille and James Jr.—a strict work ethic. “We were richer before we came into public office,” he says.

Growing up under the shadow of the US base, Gordon played baseball with both American kids and “the poorest of the poor” Filipinos that gravitated around the base looking for opportunities.

As a child, he worked as an usher in their theater and as a waiter and dishwasher in their restaurants, shined shoes and rented out comic books. He also collected slop from American households to feed their pigs, sold hand-stitched teddy bears and ladybugs and cajoled bar girls to promote his products with their American boyfriends.

Fist fights and judo

Gordon went to school in Manila. He remembers attending Grade 1 in St. Theresa’s College in QC and Grades 2 to 4 in Letran College, where he had fond memories of fist fights with Spanish mestizo classmates.

“I once came home with a bleeding upper lip. My father urged me to take up judo. He told me, ‘stand your guard and fight.’”

Gordon finished elementary at Lourdes School in Quezon City. Long after graduation, a teacher remembered Gordon fondly as the only boy who could spell “yacht.”

“I was always president of the class,” he says.

Gordon recalls that a visit by the New York Yankees to Subic was a turning point in his life.

Life is like baseball

“I saw them with my dad. They defeated the Pinoys, 20-0,” he says. After the game, the elder Gordon told his son that life was like baseball. “It teaches you to ‘step up the plate’, to ‘swing that bat.’ Both are idioms for accountability,” he says.

The assassination of his father—after three failed attempts—brought to Gordon the harsh reality of politics. He says his father was killed for exposing the involvement of the vice mayor in illegal logging and smuggling.

“The case was never brought to justice. That’s why I wanted to become a lawyer,” he says.

Before entering law school at the University of the Philippines, Gordon was brand manager of Tide and Safeguard at Procter and Gamble. ‘I introduced Safeguard to the market. It’s still number one, kiddo,” he says.

“We worked like dogs. We were taught to be assertive. It was like a boot camp. Our American and Filipino bosses were dictators,” he recalls.

At best, the experience was a reinforcement of what his father had taught him years before.

Lessons in discipline

“In Olongapo, my exposure to life in the bases taught a lot about discipline, the accountability of one man and the responsibility of officers. If we had a navy like that, we Filipinos would be more arrogant,” he says.

He admits he was for the extension of the US lease at Subic.

“Why am I pro-bases? I’ve proven my point. We are saddled by a culture of weakness. And in this culture, I’m quickly judged as arrogant,” he says.

“Everybody’s afraid of change. I’m a man who changes things. I can do things that men who do not want change cannot do.

“Look what happened to Pinatubo and Subic. Pinatubo was the end of the world for us. It showed there was no governance. All we had were shovels and prayers. Our hospital collapsed from the weight of the ash fall. I told God I’m willing to die, just that He not make me panic while all this was going on,” Gordon said.

Fraternity with Erap

Gordon insists that voters examine the track records of all candidates. He cites former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, the former mayor of San Juan, as an example.

“Erap won because he was a mayor. Of course, he was liked because all his movies were pro-poor. But he was trusted because he was a mayor.”

Gordon feels a certain degree of fraternity with Estrada because both of them were unceremoniously booted out of their offices in 1986 by then President Corazon Aquino after the ouster of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Youngest delegate

Unlike other politicians compelled to trace some form of bond with Aquino, Gordon again points to his track record as a stronger proof of leadership.

A lawyer, he was the youngest delegate to the 1971 constitutional convention, had been mayor of Olongapo, founding chair and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, tourism secretary, is currently senator and chair of the Philippine National Red Cross.

Gordon admires President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s work ethic. “She has improved the economy. What the world looks at, she has improved. But from where we look at, she hasn’t improved,” says Gordon.

“We want better schools and no corruption. People do not like her because of the First Gentleman. She broke her promise not to run, plus there’s ‘Hello Garci,’” he says.

Transformers

Gordon says he is running for president for the sake of the “vulnerable”—referring to the impoverished Filipinos. “We have really done bad as a country.”

He always emerges as best or second best speaker during informal surveys taken after presidential debates but is doing poorly in the Social Weather Station and Pulse Asia surveys.

“Who cares about the ratings? If you want me, you will vote for me,” he barks at a television reporter.

“Take out the names, take out the money of all the candidates and just look at the persons, their platforms, their track record, their record of integrity and competence and people will know who to vote for,” he says.

Gordon’s running mate is Bayani Fernando, who as mayor turned Marikina from a backwater into one of the country’s modern cities and as chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority brought order in the streets of the Philippine capital.

They call themselves “the transformers.”

“This will be a transformational, instead of a transactional leadership that only deepens the root of corruption in government. My strategy is plain and simple, people want new leaders who can deliver,” he says.

“Leadership is not a title, it is not a position. It is action.”

Curiosities

Gordon’s office in the Senate looks like a shop of curiosities. Nearly all walls are lined with books. Scale models of ships are moored on tables. A museum quality diorama of the Knights of the Round Table rests on a dinner-sized table in his quarters. “King Arthur is about chivalry,” he said.

There are also various figures of horses “because I love to ride horses.”

And a statue of Don Quixote. “A friend gave me that. When I was a child, my father cranked up the volume of the stereo and played ‘Impossible Dream’ in the morning. This was before it became a Ninoy song,” Gordon said.

Does the mile-a-minute Gordon know that he talks too much?

He pauses for about two seconds. “But I make sense, don’t I?”

Villar loses support among poor: survey

Villar loses support among poor: survey
By Carmela Fonbuena
abs-cbnNews.com/ Newsbreak

Erap ties NP standard-bearer for 2nd place

MANILA, Philippines—The new Pulse Asia survey conducted 2 weeks before the May 10 polls is double whammy for Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearers Senators Manuel.In the April 23-25 survey, Villar and Legarda plunged 5 points and 3 points, respectively.

With 2 points margin of error, that means Villar lost from 3 to 7 percentage points. At 500,000 voters per statistical point, the drop is equivalent to 1.5 million to 3.5 million votes.

The numbers of Liberal Party (LP) bet Senator Benigno Aquino III and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) bet former President Joseph Estrada were steady. Their 2-point gains are within the margin error.

“We’re not really surprised that President Estrada’s ratings rose. We stuck to our strategy of going directly to the people, and they have realized that Estrada is the real leader of the poor,” said PMP spokesperson Ralph Calinisan.

“I think people are starting to realize…that Estrada is the real ally of the masses…. We’re winning back the D and E votes, which are really the Estrada votes,” said Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco, PMP spokesman in Metro Manila.

Aquino stays on top with 39 points. It’s 1-percentage point less than the combined numbers of Villar and Estrada, who are tied at 20 points.

Administration bet former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. is stuck at 7 percentage points.

The undecided group is also steady at 9 percentage points. It’s equivalent to 4.5 million voters.

NP not discouraged

But NP spokesmen and senatorial candidates Adel Tamano and Gilbert Remulla said they are not discouraged by the survey results.“Five points going down is not fatal. We are very confident hahabol kami (we are going to catch up),” Tamano told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview.

“There is a false perception that Noynoy is going to win. I tell you, expect some surprises. This is going to be the longest 10 days,” he said. Tamano said the NP is counting on endorsements and their local machinery to deliver votes for Villar.

Remulla also accused the survey firm of being biased against Villar. “Pulse Asia surveys have never been kind to Senator Villar from what we believe is due to its ownership structure,” he told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a mobile text message.

Aquino’s first cousin, Rapa Lopa, was former president of Pulse Asia. But Lopa has divested in the survey firm since Aquino joined the presidential race.

But Villar supporter political analyst Prospero De Vera acknowledges that the new survey is bad news.

“The numbers are bad. It’s the result of a concentrated black propaganda from both Erap and Noynoy camps. The attack has been so vicious in the past few weeks,” De Vera told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview.

Binay’s dramatic increase

In the vice presidential race, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay has overtaken Legarda with his dramatic increase of 9 percentage points, or the equivalent of 4.5 million voters.Binay registered 28 points compared to Legarda’s 20 points.

According to the analysis of Pulse Asia, the vice presidential race is now between Senator Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party and Binay. Roxas remains on top with 37 points.

But Roxas is already confident of the LP’s big win in May. “I am happy that Noynoy Aquino and I will become the next president and vice-president of this country. We pledge to pursue our commitment to reform our government so that our people can enjoy the fruits of good governance as this will result in true progress and development for all the peoples of this country,” Roxas said in a statement.

Noynoy gets poor, Erap gets Mindanao

Villar’s numbers show he is losing the support across the board—in all regional breakdowns and all socio-demographics.

Candidates’ gains and losses
Error margin
Aquino
Villar Estrada
Nationwide
2 2 -5 2
NCR 7 -3 -2 2
Balance Luzon 3 4 -5 1
Visayas 5 6 -7 3
Mindanao 5 -1 -7 5
ABC Not available -4 -1 -1
D Not available 2 -6 4
E Not available 3 -4 0

Villar is losing to Aquino and Estrada his support base among the poor.Villar dropped 6-percentage points and 4-percentage points in classes D and E, respectively. Aquino gained 2 percentage points in Class D and 3 percentage points in Class E. Estrada gained 4 points in Class D.

The foundation of Villar’s campaign has always been his rags-to-riches story. He says that if he can get himself out of poverty, he can also do it for the rest of the Filipinos.

But this claim was put in question when various camps starting in March belied Villar’s poverty. (See Aquino joins ‘Villar is not poor’ chorus)

“Maybe the poor voters are getting confused. Probably they got confused by all these accusations,” said Villar supporter, De Vera. “Our messaging has been drowned out by negative attacks. It’s not anymore issues.”

By region, Villar is losing to Aquino his supporters in Balance Luzon and the Visayas. Estrada continues to shrink Villar’s support base in Mindanao.

In the March 2010 survey, Estrada registered a big gain in Mindanao at the expense of Villar.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who is vice president for Mindanao of Estrada’s PMP, said the supporters of Estrada are returning to his side after the Supreme Court’s decision in January 2010 to junk the disqualification case against him. (See Erap, not C-5, caused Villar’s survey drop)

The other candidates, including disqualified bet Vetellano Acosta, got 1 point to 3 points increases across the board.

Victim of black propaganda?

Villar’s camp said the surveys numbers are a result of a concentrated black propaganda against Villar.

“In the past few weeks, we have seen intensified black propaganda and vicious attacks from both the Erap and Aquino camps,” Remulla said.

“Jamby, si Erap, si Gordon, and the Liberal Party, they’re all hitting Manny [Villar] at the same time. There has been a flurry of negative campaigning. It’s below the belt,” Tamano added.

Among the key developments identified by Pulse Asia during the survey period are the following:

  • Defections from Lakas-Kampi CMD to NP and LP
  • Allegations made by Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that while serving Senate President in 2007, Villar used his position to pressure the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) to decide in his favor on a matter concerning the public offering of his real estate company’s shares

De Vera assailed the LP camp for “concocting” the alleged “Villaroyo” alliance between President Arroyo and Villar.“All evidence show that it’s (defections from Lakas-Kampi CMD) practically equal. And they got Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the most notorious and most loyal adviser of President Arroyo. While he joined LP, he said he is still loyal to President Arroyo. What other proof of a distorted politician is that?” De Vera said. (See Lakas-Kampi defections: ‘Villaroyo’ or ‘Gloriaquino’?)

He also challenged Estrada to file a case against Villar in allegedly exerting his pressure on the PSE. “The PSE has cleared Villar. Why don’t they file a case?” he said.

Blaming the media

De Vera also laments what he calls “media’s bias” against Villar.

“It’s the black propaganda peddled through accusations in press conferences, the media, and the SMS. These have been driving the campaign since 2 weeks ago,” De Vera said.

“The Noynoy camp has a significant advantage in the media. They are backed up by ABS-CBN. They are also backed up by columnists, who hide behind their columns. Villar doesn’t have any of this,” he said.

In a press conference on Monday, Villar’s family also blamed the media for the negative stories on Villar (See Villar’s mom: Stop picking on my son)

While Villar has dominated political advertising in television and radio, Tamano said the ads are powerless against all the attacks.

“It’s very difficult to answer all allegations. It’s not one-on-one. It’s one side versus four,” Tamano said.

Tamano said in the remaining days in the campaign period, the NP will stress their message on competence. “The real debate should be who is most competent. If we go back to that, I believe we are going to get the undecided voters,” he said.

“Our voters have shifted to the undecided and we are doing all that we can to win them back. We believe there is enough time. Once that is done, it will be back to manageable levels and our party machinery will see us to victory,” said Remulla. (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak).

Teodoro camp: Inquirer coverage fair, disclaims ad vs PDI

Teodoro camp: Inquirer coverage fair, disclaims ad vs PDI
By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The camp of administration standard-bearer Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. has distanced itself from a print ad questioning a Philippine Daily Inquirer story about Teodoro’s campaign rally in Davao City and the paper’s supposed bias for another candidate.

Mike Toledo, spokesperson for Teodoro, confirmed that a group of volunteers in Davao City had paid for the ad that came out in another broadsheet last Wednesday.

“The ads being brought out by volunteers are ads made on their own. We have nothing to do with the ads put out by volunteers,” Toledo said by phone the other night. But he said Teodoro’s media bureau respected the volunteers’ right to put out the advertisement.

Raymundo Roquero, secretary general of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, under whose banner Teodoro is running, also said the party had no hand in the ad and that the Inquirer had been fair in its coverage of Teodoro’s campaign.

Crowd estimate

In the ad, titled “Setting the record straight,” the Davao volunteers questioned the Inquirer’s crowd estimate of 2,000 at the rally for Teodoro at Davao’s Rizal Park last Saturday night.

The ad claimed that more than 12,000 people waited for Teodoro at the airport, and later joined the motorcade from the airport to the park for the rally.

“The bias of the Inquirer for one presidential candidate has been clear since the start of the campaign period, and continues to this day! Tama na (Enough),” the ad said.

“We don’t know about it. I only read about it. We’ve not even discussed it,” Roquero said by phone.

Fair coverage

Roquero said the Inquirer had been “fair” in its coverage of Teodoro from the party’s convention in November last year through the Feb. 9 kickoff of the campaign and on to the campaign proper.

“You had a very good coverage of the proclamation of Gibo as standard-bearer,” Roquero said. “The stories on the guessing game as to who will be the official candidate between Gibo and Bayani Fernando were good. Even the proclamation rally in Antipolo City was well covered.”

Roquero said he was aware of the dynamics in the newspaper industry and that he understood why some stories about Teodoro did not land on the paper’s front page.

“It all depends on the activity. If the event is not newsworthy enough, then it’s not going to land in the news. Your message should be good so it can be given a good medium,” he said.

More Noynoy stories

Roquero, however, observed that the paper appeared to be giving more space to stories about Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the Liberal Party presidential candidate.

“There seems to be a big space for Noynoy’s stories … but it’s not as pronounced as ABS-CBN,” he said.

Delgado says his wife sent e-mail in good faith

Delgado says his wife sent e-mail in good faith
By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Former National Power Corp. president Guido Delgado Thursday said Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was “lying” and was “wrong” when the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer accused his wife of starting the e-mail chain of a psychiatric report showing Aquino was “mentally unfit” to lead the country.

“I flatly deny Senator Aquino’s accusation and demand that he retract his statement and that he apologize to my wife and my family,” Delgado said in a two-page statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Senator Aquino cannot fathom the deep hurt he has caused my family because he does not have a wife or children. If he wants to hurt me, he has to hit me. He should be man enough to face me squarely and not to pick on my wife who was only going out of her way to verify the report,” Delgado added.

Delgado is a supporter of Aquino’s rival, Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar.

Aquino and his party said that it was Delgado’s wife, Joy, who started the e-mail chain of the first psychiatric report that cast doubts on the LP leader’s mental fitness.

Delgado said that the e-mail was sent “in confidence and good faith to Dan Songco, a close friend and Noynoy supporter.

“I have been informed that the same e-mail was forwarded to Rapa Lopa (Aquino’s cousin) to precisely verify the psychiatric report. Dan Songco informed me that he never said that it was my wife who made the report,” Delgado said.

“I would like to remind Senator Aquino again that no amount of denial and scare tactics could obfuscate from the public mind any amount of doubt the report has raised regarding Senator Aquino’s mental health. It is the duty of every voting Filipino to know the qualifications and readiness of public officials if they are fit to perform their official duties,” he said.

Delgado released the report to the media on Tuesday and admitted that he did not verify it. He claimed that the report was brought by a messenger to Villar’s volunteer office in Mandaluyong City.

Delgado said in his statement that last Tuesday, when he went public with the “unverified psychiatric report,” was his and his wife’s 25th wedding anniversary.

“She did not know what I was about to do and she was so upset and she cried because we have many friends who support Senator Aquino,” he said.

Once-reluctant Aquino ready to lead the Philippines

Once-reluctant Aquino ready to lead the Philippines
Agence France-Presse

CALUMPIT, Bulacan, Philippines—Standing on the back of a truck throwing wristbands to an endless stream of people chanting his name, Senator Benigno Aquino III smiles and says he can almost feel the Philippine presidency.

Less than a year ago the quietly spoken Aquino publicly vacillated on whether he wanted to continue the imposing work of his famous parents, who are regarded as democracy heroes in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation.

But, with elections less than two weeks away, he now appears passionate in wanting to be president and more comfortable with the hopes so many have for him as the country’s savior.

“You feel that things that weren’t considered possible a few months ago are in the realms of possibility,” Aquino, 50, told Agence France-Presse from aboard the flatbed truck as it embarked on a pulsating five-hour campaign procession.

“So the changes that we are seeking to implement to improve the lot of our people seem imminently doable.”

Asked if he felt he was on the brink of victory ahead of the May 10 election, Aquino looked out at the masses of people lining the road ahead of him and replied with an emphatic: “Yes”.

“I thought it would be a difficult battle but with the people demonstrating in numbers like this it doesn’t seem to be that big a struggle,” he said.

While Aquino was referring to the direct support he has seen on regular motorcade forays around the country in recent months, harder evidence emerged on Thursday with a national survey showing he was headed for a comfortable win.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they would vote for him, with wealthy property developer Senator Manuel Villar and ex-president Joseph Estrada tied for second place with 20-percent support each, the Pulse Asia survey said.

However in a democratic system that has long suffered from corruption and violence, Aquino said he was concerned that poll cheating could cost him victory.

“That seems to be the biggest threat at the moment so we are working on it,” he said.

Aquino referred to the 2004 presidential and 2007 congressional elections, in which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her ruling party are alleged to have employed a range of illegal tactics to win.

“The people who were identified and implicated have not been put before the court of justice. So hence (we are concerned),” he said.

But such fears appeared to wash over Aquino only briefly as his campaign truck meandered slowly through narrow roads of impoverished rural villages.

Drawing energy in the blistering heat from cigarettes, bottles of Coca-Cola and the adulation of his supporters, Aquino threw out thousands of his signature yellow friendship wristbands.

Belying his reputation as an uncharismatic and aloof politician, Aquino handed out the bands one-by-one, looking at many of the recipients in the eye and often offering a quick word of encouragement.

The procession lasted from early afternoon until well after dark, but Aquino did not pause and one of his aides estimated he personally gave away 6,500 wristbands.

For Aquino’s backers, such moments are proof that the balding bachelor always had the potential to capitalize on the mystique surrounding his parents.

His father, also named Benigno, was shot dead at Manila’s airport in 1983 as he tried to return from US exile to fight Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.

Benigno Aquino Sr.’s death turned him into a political martyr and his wife, Corazon, into the leader of a democracy movement that famously toppled Marcos with the “People Power” revolution of 1986.

Cory Aquino then served as the Philippines’ president, earning a reputation for being honest that so many now cherish following nine years of rule under Arroyo that her many critics charge has lacked moral leadership.

Cory Aquino’s death last year from cancer served as the catalyst for her son’s stunning political rise, after he spent 11 low-key years in Congress.

After grabbing another handful of wristbands, Aquino said he owed his success to his parents’ legacy.

“That opened all of the doors,” he said.

Strike 3 on psycho issue: wife denies Boston psychiatrist ever treated Noynoy

Strike 3 on psycho issue: wife denies Boston psychiatrist ever treated Noynoy
abs-cbnNEWS.com

Manila, PHILIPPINES – The wife of the late Boston psychiatrist Steve Agular denied that her husband ever treated Liberal Party presidential bet  Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

In a short statement, Dr. Rosario Agular said there is “absolutely no truth” to the claim that Aquino consulted her husband.
“Aquino was not even a patient of my husband. I condemn the use of my late husband’s name in these attempts to smear the reputation of Aquino,” Agular said in her statement.
Critics of Senator Aquino, who has been leading in the public opinion polls, have continued pressing the psych issue even after 2 alleged psych reports on his mental condition turned out to be fakes.
The latest to join the fray is a group supposedly composed of psychiatrists, pharmacists and lawyers who held a press conference on the issue on Thursday, April 29.
Represented by Philippine Star Columnist Chit Pedrosa, the group, which called themselves the Citizens for their Right to Information, claimed that Agular served as Aquino’s neurologist and psychiatrist sometime between 1981 to 1983 while the Aquino family was still living in Boston.
Pedrosa said she learned about this from a former official of the Philippine Fund.
The dentist, not the psychiatrist

Asked to react about the latest issue being hurled against him, Aquino, who was campaigning in Mindoro Oriental when the news broke, dismissed Pedrosa’s claim as mere black propaganda.
He denied ever consulting a psychiatrist.
He admitted that he knew the late Dr. Agular, but only as a family friend. The Dr. Agular that he did consult was Steven Agular’s wife, who is a dentist.
Steven Agular recently passed away, according to Aquino.
Pedrosa’s statements did not surprise him, according to Aquino, because she has never written positively about his family.
Pro-admin columnist

Pedrosa has repeatedly criticized Aquino in her columns while openly praising administration standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro. She also favored President Arroyo’s decision to run for lower office and the administration’s efforts to push charter change.
During the term of former President Fidel Ramos, she and her husband led PIRMA, which sought to extend Ramos’ term through constitutional amendment.
Pedrosa also wrote about the alleged psychiatric report that former NAPOCOR President Guido Delgado released to the media earlier. The report has been exposed as a mere forgery. – abs-cbnNEWS.com