Noli willing to talk to Noynoy
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines – Vice President Noli de Castro is willing to talk to Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding the coming May 10 elections.
Aquino disclosed that De Castro’s chief of staff Jesse Andres had told him that the vice president wants to have discussions with him.
“It’s been there for quite sometime, the invitation to talk, but the meeting has not yet pushed through,” Aquino told The STAR.
De Castro, who won as President Arroyo’s running mate in 2004, has been independent and did not run for any public office even if he was considered a frontrunner in the presidential race with high ratings in early surveys.
He declined to be the administration party’s standard-bearer despite an invitation from the Lakas-Kampi-CMD.
De Castro told newsmen that he would like Aquino’s running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II to win as vice president.
LP campaign manager for the senatorial slate Sen. Francis Pangilinan, a friend of the vice president and co-member of the Wednesday Club that included De Castro, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., Sen. Joker Arroyo and former Sen. Ralph Recto, said the vice president had told him about his support for Roxas but not yet for Aquino’s candidacy.
If De Castro decides to support Aquino, only Senator Arroyo will be left with Villar because Recto also chose to run for re-election under the LP.
Meanwhile, 47 farmers’ groups and agrarian reform advocates representing more than 300,000 farmers nationwide formally endorsed Aquino and Roxas yesterday as their choice to become the next president and vice-president of the country.
The endorsement by the 47 groups followed the endorsement of the LP tandem by the farmer-beneficiaries of agrarian reform in the controversial Sumilao estate in Bukidnon.
The farmers marched from Bukidnon to Manila to dramatize the problems in the agrarian reform program in the Philippines.
“We support Aquino for president and Roxas for vice president because we are convinced they will fight for food security. Their emphasis on buying rice from our own farmers at reasonable prices rather than importing corruption-tainted grains will be good for us,” the group said in a statement.
The farmers said: “We are confident that they will implement CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms) properly and with sufficient funding.”
They said that under the leadership of the two LP leaders, farmers could look forward to faster coverage of private and public agricultural land; provision of gender-fair support services to ensure increasing agricultural production and higher farm incomes; and cessation of conversion of irrigated and irrigable farm land and attention to ecological concerns and climate change issues.
At the same time, they urged the LP tandem to ensure the speedy resolution of agrarian conflicts, among them the resolution of the settlement agreement between the Sumilao farmers of Bukidnon and San Miguel Foods Inc.; the conversion into agrarian lands of thousands of hectares of land in Davao del Norte covered by the Davao Penal Colony and owned by the government; the refusal of the Negros Occidental Register of Deeds to transfer the titles of land in Hacienda Bacan to the rightful beneficiaries, allegedly because the estate is owned by the Arroyo family; and the Hacienda Luisita land dispute. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Ma. Elisa P. Osorio