e-VAT

Villar, NP court Muslim vote

Villar, NP court Muslim vote
By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur , Philippines  – Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. and the party’s senatorial slate yesterday received a strong show of support from local leaders who gathered 20,000 supporters for their political rally in Barangay Banggolo.

The NP has allied with local party Ummah-Ompia led by re-electionist Gov. Omar Ali Solitario and sworn in local leaders from the province’s 38 municipalities.

In expressing his support for Villar, Marawi second district congressional candidate Jun Macarambon took potshots at other presidential candidates who he claims are “insensitive” to the Mindanao peace process.

Macarambon claimed that Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino standard-bearer former President Joseph Estrada practically declared an all-out war in Mindanao when he delivered a speech during his campaign sortie in Davao.

Macarambon also claimed that Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Roxas II and former senator Franklin Drilon, who is running again for the Senate, derailed the peace process when they opposed the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) with the separatist Moro Islamlic Liberation Front.

In his speech, Villar reiterated his platform of governance to eradicate poverty by making the Philippine economy at par with neighbor countries.

He also promised that Mindanao will not be left behind under his administration.

Villar also defended his spending for political advertisements, claiming he has not overspent.

“I keep a tab on my advertisement expenses. Most of the time the actual expenses are lower,” he said.

Villar’s new political advertisement is a 30-second spiel on the country’s pressing problems and the need to elect an experienced leader. The infomercial subtly criticizes LP standard-bearer Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for being inexperienced.

In a separate statement, NP said the new advertisement is expected to increase Villar’s competitive advantage.

Villar said Aquino cannot implement genuine economic reforms because his party has absorbed President Arroyo’s economic team, the latest being Mrs. Arroyo’s economic adviser, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.

The others are former administration finance and trade secretaries Cesar Purisima and Roxas, and economic planning director Ralph Recto, architect of the 12 percent Expanded Value-Added Tax.

Aquino has said more administration allies are expected to transfer to his party.

‘Gloriaquino’

Villar said Salceda’s defection to the LP disproves allegations of a secret alliance between him and President Arroyo.

Villar alleged that it is Aquino who has a hidden alliance with the President.

“Gloriaquino is very clear. They coined Villarroyo to mislead the public from the real events,” he said. “If we were to be suspicious about something, it should be about the relationship between President Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino.”

In a campaign sortie in Bulacan last April 5, Aquino said he does not welcome administration party members to transfer to his party.

Villar’s running mate. Sen. Loren Legarda believes their party can still corner votes in Bicol despite Salceda’s defection to LP because Albay is only one of the provinces in the Bicol region.

Salceda endorsed Legarda’s candidacy a week ago.

“Bicol has solid support for NP-NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition). We should get it straight from him (Salceda). Albay is only a province in the Bicol region, so we can’t say that the region has solid support for the Liberal Party.”

Camarines Sur Gov. Lray Villafuerte doubts Salceda can bring support to the LP.

Villafuerte, chair of the League of Provinces, is confident that he can deliver votes from Camarines Norte and Catanduanes, aside from his province.

“We (NP) have support not only in Bicol but also in big provinces,” he said.

He said two other administration members – Masbate Gov. Elisa Kho and Sorsogon Gov. Sally Lee – would support the NP if they decide to join the defection bandwagon.

Tempers fly in vice presidential debate

Tempers fly in vice presidential debate
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—ABS-CBN’S vice presidential debate televised nationwide on Sunday night lived up to its billing as a confrontation.

After weeks of blasting each other in the media, leading vice presidential candidates Sen. Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party and Sen. Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition finally traded barbs face to face.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay also renewed his squabble with former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Bayani Fernando.

Broadcaster Jay Sonza of the Kilusan Bagong Lipunan and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Perfecto Yasay Jr. provided relief from the heated exchange, content with simply stating their positions.

The administration’s Edu Manzano stayed away from the debate barely two months before the May 10 elections.

The most sparks flew when an incensed Binay told off Fernando after the MMDA chair brought up Makati’s dirty waterways that his agency had supposedly cleaned up.

“Wow, we’re the ones that worked on that, Bayani. We spent our own money there,” Binay said, visibly trying to restrain his ire.

“I pity you. You’re envious of our city’s wealth. But we are using our city’s funds for its welfare,” he added.

Fernando slammed Binay when the mayor asked him if he would support an investigation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s alleged wrongdoing.

“You’ve yet to do that?” Fernando said. “That has already taken too long. You are a lawyer. You’ve stood onstage to hit the President. Why have you not come up with anything so far?”

She didn’t pull punches

Legarda also didn’t pull her punches.

She told a teacher presented by the broadcast network that she was sorry that her bill increasing the salaries of public school teachers had not been passed.

“I’m not the chair of the committee on education. It’s Mar Roxas. I think not one hearing was even conducted on the measure,” Legarda said.

Roxas’ choicest words could have been his stab at Legarda’s decision to transfer from one party to another.

“Those who don’t follow the party rules … have no self-discipline,” Roxas said.

“I didn’t cry in the Senate when the impeachment trial of (former President Joseph Estrada in January 2001) was aborted,” he added.

Estrada’s allies in the Senate at that time voted to suppress evidence and prosecutors walked out.

Legarda, then a Lakas stalwart and ally of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, later ran for vice president of Estrada’s best friend, Fernando Poe Jr.

Pro-poor pretenders

Binay, the third placer in the poll surveys, in his opening statement referred to Roxas as among those “who pretend to be pro-poor” but voted for the passage in Congress of the Expanded Value Added Tax (e-VAT) Law in 2005.

“This has caused the suffering of many of our people,” Binay said.

In the contest between survey leaders, Legarda drew first blood when she confronted Roxas with his vote to approve the highly unpopular e-VAT and his “watered down” version of the Cheaper Medicines Law.

She also questioned his family’s continued hold on 1,600 hectares of land in Rizal province despite the agrarian reform law.

“My family and I have heard these questions and sometimes we just laugh at them,” Roxas said, adding the dispute is in court.

Nothing wrong

Roxas showed no regret for his vote for the e-VAT that was widely viewed as the culprit behind the defeat in 2007 of its sponsor, former Sen. Ralph Recto, who’s once again running for reelection.

“There’s nothing wrong with taxation. What’s wrong is when taxes are stolen,” Roxas said.

He defended the provision of the affordable medicines measure giving the President the responsibility of lowering costs rather than to a board that would set prices. He said a board would only become another source of corruption.

“The Lipitor that you are taking used to cost P100. Now it only costs P50,” Roxas told Legarda.

Climate change

Roxas questioned Legarda’s priorities in making the environment her advocacy, noting that the Philippines accounts for less than 1 percent of the climate problem.

“It is a gut issue,” Legarda said. The Philippines is one of the 10 countries that would be most affected by climate change, she said.

The El Niño-caused drought that damaged crops and the floods that killed many people during the wrath of Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng,” Legarda said, showed that climate change was an issue that directly affected the people.

Sen. Richard Gordon, who showed up at the event to support Fernando, his running mate, expressed disappointment at the debate, criticizing the behavior of the crowds brought along by the candidates and calling the event “a mob rule.”

“There’s a lot of pandering … so much noise rather than reflections.” With a report from Michael Lim Ubac

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