Elisa Kho

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.