Villar supporters happy Gibo out as Lakas chair

Villar supporters happy Gibo out as Lakas chair
By Henni Espinosa

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) told Philippine presidential candidates to observe Lent, but their Filipino-American supporters are not taking a break, even intensifying their campaign efforts for their elections bets.

In a room bursting with orange, close to a hundred Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar-supporters proudly wore their candidate’s color, excited to hear that presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro has quit as chairman of the ruling Lakas party, complaining of lack of support from the Arroyo administration. They say this means more votes for Villar.

“I’m so excited na dumadami na ang sumusuporta sa uncle ko.  I know it’s just going to grow more,” said Ric Tenorio, a nephew of Villar.

“Lilipat ang mga tao kay Villar dahil nakikita nila weak si Teodoro eh. Lahat ng mga sumusuporta sa weaker candidates, ultimately, magiging swing votes yan for us,” said Rey Satorre, President of US Pinoys for Villar.

But supporters of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III—now 2,000 strong in the US—said Teodoro quitting the Lakas party won’t stir things up in the Philippine elections. They said Aquino still leads the polls and will remain that way.

The latest Social Weather Station survey shows that Aquino has opened up a 9-point lead over Villar, who stays in second place. Teodoro is now at fourth place, with a measly 6%.

“Nothing has changed for us. We’re continuing our own campaign and it’s going strong,” said Gloria Navarette of the US Pinoys for Noynoy-Mar.

Villar supporters debunked claims that Villar is now Arroyo’s new ally. But Aquino supporters say otherwise. “Wala tayong magagawa. Talagang tuta siya ni Gloria,” said Charito Benipayo of the US Pinoys for Noynoy-Mar.

Aquino supporters said Villar’s popularity has taken a hit because so many people question his main campaign slogan that he comes from a dirt-poor upbringing, and that he can pull people out of poverty. Critics said Villar went to a private school and his family could afford to go to private hospitals.

Villar said his brother Danny died of cancer because they could not afford his treatment.

“He’s lying about his claims na namatay ang kapatid niya dahil wala silang kapera-pera. So would people want someone who would lie to them?” said Aquino supporter Rad Abarrientos.

But Neri Samala, a close friend of the Villar family, said there’s no question Villar came from humble beginnings.

“Nanggaling sila sa simpleng buhay. Hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin sila nagbabago. Lalo na si Manny,” Samala said.

They may have opposing views in politics, but Villar and Aquino supporters agree on one thing—the strength of the overseas Filipinos. Besides fund-raising efforts for their candidates, the groups said they plan to reach out to relatives and friends back home to convince them to vote wisely. — Balitang America

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.