Noynoy, Mar deny LP campaign in disarray
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star
GAPAN, Nueva Ecija , Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III yesterday maintained his campaign was focused against the “real enemies” despite a reported power struggle between his running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas II, and his best friend-supporter, Sen. Francis Escudero.
Roxas, for his part, said the reports of disarray and power struggle in the LP were apparent moves to divide him and Aquino at a time they were both leading in the surveys.
Roxas said he didn’t mind Escudero supporting only Aquino, saying it was a choice that had to be respected.
Both Aquino and Roxas lamented that the issue was being blown out of proportion since there were other major concerns and issues that needed attention.
Aquino admitted the LP made changes in the party hierarchy since former senator Sergio Osmeña III, who is seeking reelection under the LP, had resigned as party coordinator to focus on his own campaign.
Aquino said Danny Gozo, the head of Roxas’ communications team, replaced Osmeña because the LP vice presidential bet also had to join the sorties.
Aquino’s relative, Maria Montelibano, is working directly under Gozo. Montelibano is handling the staff members of Escudero helping in the campaign.
They were temporarily replaced by the staff members of Roxas but were asked to report back after the kinks had been ironed out.
Escudero reportedly felt his people were being eased out by Roxas.
Aquino and Roxas said there were misunderstandings but stressed they are relatively small issues which do not merit the full attention of the party.
For their part, Aquino and Roxas said they never had any misunderstanding since the day they decided who between them should run for president and vice president.
Aquino said he and Roxas had been transparent on everything, including the endorsement of Escudero.
There were reports that Roxas and Escudero do not get along well. Escudero was said to be helping only Aquino because he had been supporting Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay for vice president.
Aquino said Roxas gave way to his candidacy because he believed in the cause they were fighting for.
He said all of them in LP know who their real enemies are and they have committed to fight these enemies and achieve real change for the country.
“So all of us should not focus on this (supposed Roxas-Escudero rift). We are talking about failure of elections,” he said.
Escudero, on the other hand, admitted a battle between him and Roxas would occur “down the line.”
“But then if there is a battle down the line, will you sacrifice the mission we all have at this point in time?” he asked.
Roxas claimed he “absolutely” has no problem with Escudero supporting only Aquino.
Roxas said he should not be pitted against Escudero since “there is no issue” between them.
“Maybe the media are fed up reporting that we are ruling the surveys. Senator Noynoy has a 12-point lead while I have 20 points. Maybe they want some excitement and so they looked for a story the size of an ant but blown (out of proportion),” he said.
He said Escudero’s backing was important for Aquino especially in courting votes from the Bicol region.
Roxas stressed he could not impose on anybody, including Escudero, to support both him and Aquino.
What is important, Roxas said, is to ensure Aquino’s victory above everything else.
LP campaign manager Florencio “Butch” Abad also dismissed reports that the party is headed for a crash.
He said LP is “united and solid as ever” despite differing ideas on how to undertake the campaign.
Abad said misunderstandings could not be avoided but they are too small to become the reason for the party’s disintegration. – With Ding Cervantes