Noynoy laughs off Baby James slip-up
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star
MABALACAT, Pampanga , Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III laughed off yesterday his nephew’s supposed endorsement of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., saying his rival must be desperate to claim even the support of a toddler.
Aquino said his sister Kris Aquino-Yap was “sorry” about the Bacolod City incident where her son Baby James blurted out “Villar” after saying hello to the crowd and flashing the L-sign during a campaign rally.
He said he told her that there was nothing to be sorry about because his nephew could be really “naughty.”
“Why blame a two-year-old? Maybe he hears the name, so (Baby James) said it,” Aquino said, noting that his nephew is at the “terrible two” stage and liked to do exactly the opposite of what was being told him.
He also took a swipe at Villar for considering his nephew’s antic as an endorsement.
Aquino said his nephew could have been influenced by Villar’ s infomercials flooding the television.
The buzz created by Baby James’ spiel had Akap Bata party-list, a group promoting children’s welfare, appealing to the public to spare Kris Aquino’s son from politics.
“We are appealing to those people playing up this issue and have been spreading and hurling ridicule at Baby James to please leave him alone and respect his innocence and childhood,” Akap Bata party-list first nominee Joy Alcantara said in a statement.
The group also urged Kris Aquino to supervise her son during campaign sorties.
Alcantara said they see nothing wrong if Kris will bring her child to political activities for it is the right of every child to be exposed to and aware of such affairs.
Noynoy: Gibo, odd man out
Speaking at the heart of President Arroyo’s territory, Senator Aquino said the May elections would be a “two-man race,” insinuating that his cousin, former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro, would not fair well since the first two in the survey would most likely figure in a tight contest.
Aquino expressed confidence that he would still enjoy strong support even in the province of Mrs. Arroyo, whom he said had been belatedly expressing support for Teodoro.
Aquino and his running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II held a motorcade and rally to drum up support among the Kapampangans, particularly those from the second district where Mrs. Arroyo is running for a congressional seat against LP bet architect Adonis Simpao.
Teodoro, who was also here yesterday, was welcomed by presidential son Mikey, current representative of the second district.
“I began to take part in the country’s politics during the time of martial law. I can say Pampanga is one of the friendliest areas anywhere in the country. Here my father was number one (when he ran for senator) and my mother registered three times more votes than (the late Ferdinand) Marcos,” Aquino said, pointing out that there were evident signs that Teodoro was not being backed by the administration because the resources were not coming for his cousin and allies were joining Villar’s camp.
He said it could be Mrs. Arroyo’s strategy not to boost support for Teodoro since her endorsement was seen as a kiss of death, but his cousin could not afford to lose allies because resources were not being given.
However, he said he would not advise Teodoro to back out of the race and expose the real deal between Mrs. Arroyo and Villar as what former House speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. reportedly advised.
No Speaker Arroyo under President Aquino
The LP bet also promised that he will not work with President Arroyo as House Speaker because there will be no “Speaker Arroyo under a President Aquino” administration.
“Theoretically, the speaker of the House of Representatives always belongs to the party of the sitting president. Most congressmen will find it hard to distance themselves from the administration,” he said.
Lakas-Kampi-CMD chair Amelita Villarosa admitted last Monday during the birthday Mass for the President in Lubao that members of her party will push for Mrs. Arroyo as their candidate for speaker in the 15th Congress.
Escudero stays with LP
Meanwhile, the kinks between the LP and Sen. Francis Escudero have been ironed out after the latter’s team returned to help the whole party following talks to settle any misunderstanding.
Escudero was set to declare support for Aquino and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, the running mate of former President Joseph Estrada, which did not sit well with party insiders.
Roxas took over the media and other campaign operations for Aquino and the rest of their team after former senator Sergio Osmeña III took a leave of absence as party coordinator to focus on his own senatorial bid.
Escudero’s team was retained to handle Aquino’s media relations.
LP insiders wanted its ranks solidified for the Aquino-Roxas team during the last stretch of the campaign because it is not good to have any talks about an Aquino-Binay faction within the party.
There are also talks of a rift between Escudero and Roxas because the two would likely be rivals in the 2016 presidential elections. This is seen as one of the reasons why Escudero would not declare support for Roxas.
But Roxas has been saying it is too early to talk about another presidential election when the current one is not even through yet.
Aquino clarified someone that had to replace Osmeña and those working under him, and Roxas was the one to do it at the moment.
He said Roxas was not actually “taking over” the LP but the changes were necessary consequences of Osmeña’s need to focus on his campaign.
Aquino refused to comment on Escudero’s support for Binay.
“As far as I’m concerned, when their principal (Escudero) talked to me, we had certain agreements and these agreements are being adhered to. I gave him what he wanted to do and that is being done,” he said. – Helen Flores, Ding Cervantes, Jerry Botial