Villar should blame self for falling ratings: Aquino
By RG Cruz
MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III on Tuesday said his rival, Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manny Villar, has no one to blame but himself for his falling ratings in pre-election surveys.
“Wala siyang dapat sisihin kundi sarili niya,” Aquino told reporters who asked about the NP bet’s continuous slide in the ratings.
A Social Weather Stations survey, conducted on April 16-19 and published on Monday, showed that support for Villar dropped by 2 points to 26%.
On the other hand, Aquino, the son of the country’s late democracy icon, Corazon “Cory” Aquino, edged up 1 point to 38%. The country will hold national elections and launch its first automated vote count on May 10.
Villar’s ratings have slipped since February, when he closed in on Aquino’s lead with a two-point margin, partly due to allegations by his critics that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband were supporting his candidacy.
Compared to Villar, Aquino’s ratings have been steady at above 35% since the country’s two main independent pollsters, SWS and Pulse Asia, started surveys on presidential candidates late last year.
In Tuesday’s interview, Aquino said Villar was given every chance to respond to all the allegations leveled against him. Villar has been accused of unethical behavior for allegedly authorizing insertions in the C-5 road project while his party has been accused of releasing a fake psychiatric report about Aquino.
Recently, former president Joseph Estrada accused Villar of pressuring members of the Philippine Stock Exchange Board board so he can illegally profit from the public listing of his company’s shares in 2007. Villar has denied all of the accusations.
Aquino said Villar’s continued refusal to directly address the issues leveled against him has had a negative effect on his campaign.
“Dami namang pagkakataon na sagutin ni Senator Villar ang mga issue sa kaniya. Pinili po niyang di harapin. Yung duda po. Yung paniniwala na di tama yung mga kilos,” he said.
The LP bet dismissed accusations that his camp is behind the slew of black propaganda against Villar. He admitted tipsters approached them about the latest allegation against Villar but that there were no documents backing up the claim.
He also dismissed the NP bet’s claim that command votes of Villar’s allies at the local level could easily surpass Aquino’s survey lead. Aquino said the admission of NP senatorial bet Gilbert Remulla that he met with ex-Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. would actually cause problems for the Nacionalista candidates.
“Command votes sa Maguindanao? Dahil inamin na rin ho naman ng kandidato nila nakipagkita siya kay Andal Sr. Palagay ko figment of imagination yun,” he said.
Aquino dismissed a possible repeat of the scenarios of the 1992 and 2004 presidential elections when the survey leaders were defeated in come-from-behind victories by their chief rivals. He also debunked rumors that his allies are secretly backing Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino vice-presidential bet Jejomar Binay instead of his running-mate, Mar Roxas.
“Itong alliance po namin ni Mar di dahil kapartido lang kami… Sa aking pananaw, talagang pinakaangkop na kandidato na kaya kong igarantya sa sambayanan na kung may mangyari sa akin, na ipagpapatuloy inaasam asam natin na saktong-sakto si Mar Roxas po iyon,” he said.