election law

'Poll watchers getting advance pay in GMA district'

‘Poll watchers getting advance pay in GMA district’
By Ding Cervantes
The Philippine Star

LUBAO, Pampanga , Philippines  –  Liberal Party (LP) re-electionist Gov. Eddie Panlilio urged yesterday the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate reports that his gubernatorial rival has been paying advance salaries ranging from P1,500 to P4,000 monthly to people who will act as poll watchers in the second district of Pampanga, where President Arroyo is the official congressional candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“I urge the Comelec in Pampanga and Central Luzon to check out reports that my fellow gubernatorial candidate, Mrs. Lilia Pineda, and her campaigners at the Lakas-Kampi-CMD are doing a massive recruitment of poll watchers beyond what is allowed by election laws,” the Pampanga governor said in a statement yesterday.

Panlilio said that a “first batch of poll watchers have been designated as barangay coordinators” and have been required by the Pineda camp to recruit 10 poll watchers each.

“Election laws allow two poll watchers per party in every clustered precinct to work on alternate duty. When the precinct is small, the BEI can ask the poll watchers to leave. Only a representative of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting will be allowed,” he noted.

Panlilio cited reports that barangay coordinators are already being paid P4,000 monthly while the recruited poll watchers were promised P1,500 per month.

“They are being given identification cards so they can regularly collect their allowance. This could be a form of vote buying. I pray that the Comelec check into this to be able to protect the sanctity of the election,” he said.

Mrs. Pineda and her campaign manager Rosve Henson did not respond to phone calls and text messages.

Mrs. Pineda, wife of Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda who was tagged as a big-time gambling lord during the Senate impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada, is a close friend of Mrs. Arroyo.

A cabal in Pampanga

More family members of the President and Mrs. Pineda are running in the May 10 elections.

President Arroyo’s rival in the second district, LP congressional candidate Adonis Simpao, noted that Mrs. Pineda’s son, outgoing Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda, is the congressional nominee of the Ang Galing Pinoy party-list, together with presidential son Rep. Mikey Arroyo and outgoing Bacolor Mayor Buddy Dungca.

Simpao added that Mrs. Pineda’s youngest daughter, Mylene, is also running unopposed as administration candidate for mayor in Lubao where the President is a registered voter.

In Sta. Rita town, Dennis’ wife Yolanda is seeking re-election, also under the administration party. Only independent candidate Arthur Salalila, a former mayor and Sangguniang Panlalawigan member, is challenging her.

Lubao and Sta. Rita are within the second district where the President is running for Congress.

Simpao likened the looming Pineda dynasty in Pampanga to the buildup of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao.

The rise of the Pinedas’ political stock, according to him, was based on political patronage.

He added that the President’s support for the Pinedas was also reflected in the electoral case Mrs. Pineda filed against Panlilio.

Only recently, the Comelec’s Second Division ordered the ouster of Panlilio in favor of Mrs. Pineda after a recount of votes cast for governor in 2007 purportedly revealed the latter as the real winner.

The poll body has yet to decide on the petition for reconsideration filed by Panlilio, on top of another petition filed by Pineda to immediately assume the gubernatorial post.

Simpao said the buildup of the Pineda political dynasty could be part of a scenario to strengthen Mrs. Arroyo’s political base once she becomes House Speaker or even prime minister.

“There have been a lot of declarations and denials in the past years which have been later contradicted, such as the President’s announcement not to run in 2004 elections, then the denial by Malacañang that her frequent visits to the second district was politically motivated. It turns out she had wanted all along to run for Congress in the district,” he said.

Simpao also noted that despite similar denials by Mrs. Arroyo’s camp that her congressional bid had nothing to do with reports she is interested in being House Speaker or prime minister under a parliamentary form of government, her allies are now hinting otherwise.

NP urges ABS-CBN to reveal source of psychiatric report on Noynoy

NP urges ABS-CBN to reveal source of psychiatric report on Noynoy
By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Nacionalista Party (NP) senatorial candidates yesterday challenged ABS-CBN Channel 2 to reveal their sources from the party who leaked the alleged psychiatric report on the mental health of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

NP spokesman and senatorial bet Gilbert Remulla said the party had waived the “confidentiality clause” on the protection of news sources to uncover who is behind the supposed plot to discredit Aquino.

“The name of the NP is being dragged, they made a big generalization when they claimed that the NP released that report. We are giving them authority to please reveal the source,” Remulla added.

The word war between NP and LP raged in the past week after a three-page report, purportedly on the depression of Aquino, circulated in the Internet.

At the height of the controversy, ABS-CBN executives said two sources from the NP leaked the report.

The network also revealed that a source from LP gave information surrounding the death of NP standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar’s brother, Danny, who died of complications of leukemia in 1962. Critics questioned Villar’s background based on his brother’s death certificate – which showed the young boy was brought to the Far Eastern University, a private hospital.

Remulla, along with NP senatorial bets Adel Tamano, Toots Ople and Martin Loon who represented his father detained Col. Ariel Querubin, also an NP senatorial bet, held a joint press conference yesterday to reiterate that the report did not came from the NP.

“We are reiterating that ABS-CBN disclose their sources because not only the integrity of the Nacionalista Party is affected here, but also the credibility of ABS-CBN because we are now at loggerheads. And we will continue to say that the NP did not authorize the release of such documents,” Remulla said.

Remulla said the NP’s top officials including its president Villar, secretary-general Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Rimpy Bondoc, Tamano and Ricky Luanzon and himself have no knowledge on the release of the purported psychiatric report.

Ople said she has high regard for Fr. Carmelo Caluag, SJ, the purported Ateneo official who signed the document, and she cannot allow such act of disrespect to the Jesuit priest.

She said she would consider leaving NP and run as an independent candidate if it is proven that the report came from the party.

Both Aquino and Father Caluag, whose signature appeared on the document, have claimed that the report was fabricated.

Aquino decried the supposed medical report from the Ateneo de Manila University’s psychology department, as he insisted that the document was fake.

He said the issue was an invention and smacks of his rival’s desperation to destroy his person.

The medical report was a supposed assessment of how Aquino was suffering from major depressive disorder due to work-related issues and after a breakup with his flight attendant girlfriend. It also mentioned some vices that Aquino had since he was young.

Remulla said that the report might have come from within the ranks of the Liberal Party, which has also been rocked by conflict because of the faction between the groups of LP vice-presidential bet Sen. Manuel Roxas and Sen. Francis Escudero, who are helping Aquino in his campaign.

Querubin’s son demanded an apology from the people who were behind the smear campaign.

“We will demand that that person or individual issue an apology to Fr. Caluag, to the ADMU, Sen. Aquino and to the NP,” Loon said.

Willie Revillame hits ABS-CBN

Television host Willie Revillame of ABS-CBN noontime show “Wowowee” also appealed to the network’s management to present the real attendance of people who showed up during the NP-sponsored Rockatropa-Wowowillie shows in various provinces.

Revillame was unable to hide his disappointment, especially with the ABS-CBN news and public affairs that showed only part of the thousands of people who attended the NP rally in Cabanatuan City, Lucena City and Camarines Sur.

He claimed that over 200,000 people attended the rallies in Cabanatuan and Camarines Sur.

Villar’s running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda, a broadcaster before she become a politician, said she sensed the obvious downplay in the news coverage on ABS-CBN, apparently due to their support for Aquino.

Meanwhile, LP senatorial bet detained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim called on Villar to apologize for the spread of the fake psychiatric report on Aquino.

“A true national leader is capable of acknowledging when he is at fault, whether he or his people caused the transgression. As such, I ask, can Villar do that? Can he swallow his pride and admit wrongdoing?” Lim, an adopted candidate of the Liberal Party, said in a statement.

Loren dares  other bets

Legarda challenged other vice presidential bets and the presidential candidates to undergo physical, psychological and emotional tests.

Legarda told The STAR during their party’s rally in Marbel, Koronadal City, South Cotabato on Sunday night that the tests would help determine if the candidates who are seeking the two highest positions in the country are emotionally, physically and psychologically capable to lead the nation.

Legarda, a guest candidate of the Nacionalista Party, said candidates for president and vice president should also be checked if they have any criminal records or any pending cases.

Villar supported the proposal for candidates to undergo physical and mental examinations.

Villar told the press conference at the Koronadal Sports Complex that Legarda’s challenge to their opponents was a positive move.

He said that NP bets are ready to undergo the medical tests to prove to the voters that they are qualified, ready and capable to lead the nation physically, emotionally and psychologically.

Palace supports good mental health of bets

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said the mental health of presidential candidates is a legitimate election issue that Filipinos should take into account.

Olivar said a presidential candidate’s mental health must be raised in a fair and objective manner without violating one’s right to privacy.

Meanwhile, Lakas-Kampi-CMD senatorial bet Raul Lambino lashed out yesterday at some candidates for hitting the media over the report on the alleged psychiatric problem of Aquino.

He said that journalists should not be dictated upon by personalities or groups on election-related issues, especially what and how these should be reported, saying it is part of the freedom of the press that the Constitution protects.

NP candidates called on their counterparts in the LP not to put the issue under the rug.

NP senatorial bets Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo said a presidential candidate and any candidate for that matter should be physically and mentally fit.

Lawyer seeks Villar’s  disqualification

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco filed a petition yesterday before the Commission on Elections seeking to disqualify Villar from the presidential race for allegedly accepting illegal campaign contributions.

Francisco said the Comelec should investigate the sources of campaign funds of Villar who had an “unprecedented amount” of money.

Francisco had previously filed a complaint before the Senate Ethics Committee against Villar for his alleged involvement in the irregularity over the right-of-way acquisition of the controversial C-5 Road extension project that reportedly benefited the real estate companies owned by Villar’s family.

In the new petition to the Comelec, Francisco said Villar declared in his sworn statement of assets and liabilities over P29 million cash in bank, but has reportedly spent billions in radio and television political advertisements since November 2009.

“Even if he had liquidated and sold all of his other declared assets to finance his candidacy, which obviously he has not done, the proceeds would still be insufficient and inadequate to fund his campaign expenses,” Francisco pointed out.

Francisco said the law prohibits real estate firms like the Villar-owned Vista Land and Lifescapes, Inc. from giving directly or indirectly contributions for purposes of partisan political activity.

“In view of the foregoing prohibition on real estate companies and considering that Villar spent billions in his campaign, it’s the duty of the Comelec to conduct an investigation and determine whether election law have violated,” he said. – With Alexis Romero, Rose Tamayo-Tesoro, Paolo Romero, Mayen Jaymalin