Enrile

Gov. Gwen Garcia or Gwen Garci?

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” – Groucho Marx

The controversy over the suspension of Cebu governor Gwen Garcia for grave abuse of authority and her subsequent defiance of the suspension order because of legal technicalities was summed up in a question by a columnist from a major daily : “Is it the rule of law or the rule of politics?”

The rule of law as defined by my online dictionary is “the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.”

Ideally, the rule of law checks the capriciousness of politicians. In reality, politicians are good at disguising capriciousness as rule of law. And so, with as much legal piety as they can muster, both sides in the Garcia controversy cite the rule of law to back up their support for or opposition to the implementation of her suspension. 

The administration points to substance – the evidence against Garcia – to back up its suspension order. Garcia, on the other hand, points to form – the suspension came too late, 474 days after the deadline mandated by the Local Government Code – to back her defiance of the suspension order.  

Which side is with the rule of law? Both could be because politicians will never run out of arguments to support whatever side they are on. 

From the Palace –  “Our position is that this is a process that has to be followed and we are all obliged to follow the law. And you cannot choose which law you will follow and which you will not so let us all follow the law and let us not create a situation where people are encouraged to violate the law.”

From the UNA coalition –  “So it only shows that there is really a process, okay? Governor Garcia opted to file in court also. Why then, can’t they halt the suspension in the meantime? After all, they’re saying it’s not a preventive suspension, it’s a penalty.” He added, “You know, that account about me and Senator Enrile and President Erap, that’s true. And we were there primarily para makipaggitgitan na manaig ang rule of law.” 

From the Liberal Party – “If they believe in legal processes, they should have advised Gwen to leave the Capitol and let the legal process take due course because she herself has sought refuge in the legal system in filing a motion for temporary restraining order.”

At any rate, the Court of Appeals will decide which side is more right. Will it uphold substance over form or form over substance? 

Whichever way the CA decides, one party will feel aggrieved and will howl that the rule of law was sacrificed on the altar of politics. The baying will never end.  The pressing question then is, can you do anything to end this endless barking back and forth?

Yes, you can do something about it. Gwen Garcia’s suspension is in the hands of the Court of Appeals but her political future, and her allies as well, is in your hands. You are the predicate, you decide their fate. You are the sovereign, they are your subjects. Rule wisely. You can vote against Garcia and her allies if you believe an abusado should not be in public office or you can take their side if you believe that an abusado can be abused through bad form. 

As for me I’m tempted to follow the advice of Jobak, my spiritual adviser from the Cordilleras – “Just focus on Gwen Garci of Viva Hot Babes, she’s a far more interesting subject than Gwen Garcia of Cebu.” Om…

Enrile is Senate President again

Enrile is Senate President again
By Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — A survivor of many political wars is keeping his grip on the Senate presidency, after all.

Earlier thought to be on his way out, reelected Senator Juan Ponce Enrile clinched the Senate leadership Sunday night by obtaining the support of 21 senators — a powerful majority in the 23-member upper chamber of Congress.

Senators said the 86-year-old lawmaker from Cagayan was assured of his continued hold on his position following a series of meetings and sudden developments during the weekend.

The most dramatic was Sunday’s last-minute announcement by Senator Francis Pangilinan, the erstwhile candidate of Malacañang, that he was withdrawing from the Senate presidential race in order to unify the chamber.

“It’s a truly united Senate,” Senator Edgardo Angara told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, saying that all blocs in the chamber have come together to support Enrile as their chief.

It was the second time in the Senate’s recent history that all parties and blocs have backed a common leader, Angara said.

Curiously, both cases involved Enrile and both happened while an Aquino was at the country’s helm — the first during the presidency of the late Corazon Aquino and now, during the rule of her son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“In the first Aquino administration, it was Senator Enrile who was the lone minority member in the Senate. Now under the second Aquino administration, he is the head of the unity Senate,” Angara said.

“He [Enrile] has come full circle,” he added.

In a phone interview, Angara credited the sudden turn of events to efforts of the Liberal Party (LP), Nacionalista Party (NP) of Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., and other blocs — including Angara’s — to come together and agree on a Senate President by the time the 15th Congress opens this Monday.

Since late last week, Pangilinan had been the frontrunner in the fight for the Senate leadership.

Enrile of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino only loomed as an alternative candidate after the NP and LP candidates failed to get the 13 votes needed to win the Senate presidency.

“Since neither side [Villar and Pangilinan] were able to make it, we agreed with Villar and the others that we need to elect one because it would be embarrassing for the Senate if we can’t rule even ourselves,” Angara said.

All different blocs “contributed” to the unity of the Senate, according to Angara.

He said Enrile was “the best option” because neither Pangilinan nor Villar was able to secure the 13 votes.

Angara said Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada would remain as Senate President pro tempore, while Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto would be the majority leader.

But with a unified Senate behind Enrile, Angara conceded that the question of who would be the minority leader was up in the air.

“We don’t know yet who would want to stand on the opposite aisle,” he said.

The Senate has 23 members with Aquino’s rise to the presidency. Only 21 of them can vote in Monday’s Senate presidency election.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV remains detained while Senator Panfilo Lacson has yet to surface after he left the country six months ago while facing charges for the double murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Dacer’s driver.

Estrada, like Enrile, committed to support Pangilinan but Estrada made it clear to the LP senator that he would only support him if Enrile did not make a bid for the Senate leadership.

Pangilinan lost support for his bid after party and administration allies late last week confronted him on whether he could secure the necessary numbers and later pushed Enrile to go for the presidency himself.

Enrile had said he would do so if the senators would be able to get him the numbers.

In a statement on Sunday, Pangilinan said he gave up his bid for the top Senate post because he “realized there are political realities and developments that prevent us from securing the needed 13 votes resulting in a deadlock or stalemate.”

“Much as I would like to go down fighting, I realize that to continue with my bid would keep the Senate fragmented and disunited. The disunity must now end. I believe I can help make it happen by voluntarily stepping aside,” he said.

“It has been a very difficult experience for me and my family, but if I had to do this all over again for the cause of genuine change and reforms for our nation, I would. I would like to thank our people for their prayers and support. We fought a good fight,” Pangilinan said.

Senators were meeting on Sunday to deal with the committee chairmanships. There are 27 chairmanships up for grabs.

Drilon and Estrada said they did not think Enrile’s leadership in the Senate would be a problem for President Aquino.

Drilon said that Enrile from the very start had supported Pangilinan’s bid until the latter was unable to get the needed votes.

Likewise, he said Enrile would support the administration’s legislative agenda because not only was the Senate “an institution which will respond to the needs of the country” but one was inclined to support a “popular” President such as Mr. Aquino.

Estrada agreed that Enrile would not be a problem for Mr. Aquino since the two men were very much in good terms in the Senate before.

Malacañang said on Sunday it still expected to deal with a Senate “friendly” to President Aquino despite the withdrawal of Pangilinan from the Senate presidential fight.

“We look forward to working and cooperating with a friendly Senate,” the President’s spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, said. “It’s important that we have a friendly Senate [for] our legislative agenda.”

Lacierda said that in hoping for a friendly Senate, Malacañang was not fearing that the senators might scrutinize the Aquino administration for possible corruption.

“The Aquino administration has promised not to engage in any corrupt practices that’s why we are not afraid of that,” he said. “What we are more concerned of really is the legislative agenda the President has in mind, which will require cooperation from the Senate.”

PMA board goes for Noynoy, Mar

PMA board goes for Noynoy, Mar
abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) board is backing Liberal Party (LP) bets Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for president and Sen. Mar Roxas for vice president.

The PMA board chose to endorse the 2 candidates to ensure the successful implementation of PMA’s various health programs, according to Dr. Mike Aragon, PMA chairman for media affairs.

The 2 candidates deserve the PMA’s endorsement because they have a legislative program that “protects the medical profession” and health of the country, the PMA secretary general said.

Aside from Aquino and Roxas, the PMA board has also decided to support several candidates for senator from different political parties.

They are:

former Senator Franklin Drilon (LP);
Sen. Pilar “Pia” Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party (NP);
Dr. Martin Bautista (LP);
Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico of Lakas-Kampi-CMD (Lakas);

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (PRP);
lawyer Gwendolyn Pimentel (NP);
Adel Tamano (NP);
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile of the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP);

Sergio Osmeña III (LP);
Ralph Recto (LP);
Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. (Lakas);
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada (PMP).

Palace won't meddle in Senate affairs

Palace won’t meddle in Senate affairs
By Paolo Romero and Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang announced yesterday that the administration will not meddle in the affairs of the Senate and it is up to the senators to decide if they would elect a new Senate president.

Deputy presidential spokesman and Press Undersecretary Rogelio Peyuan referred to the proposal of re-electionist Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to elect a new Senate president as a guaranty in the event no president would be proclaimed due to a failure of elections on May 10.

“It’s up to them (senators) to do what they think needs to be done to put in safeguards and security measures,” Peyuan told a news briefing. “This is a matter for them to decide.”

He said President Arroyo has not yet received a formal request from the Senate to call for a special session to allow the senators to elect a new president.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile whose term will expire in June, challenged other senators to bring in the numbers if they want him to be replaced.

Enrile made the challenge following persistent reports that some senators want to replace the Senate leadership as a contingency in case of a failure of elections.

“How? How can they do that? I’m ready to step down if they have the number anytime but how can they do that. If they can ask the President to call a special session between now and Friday, oh? We cannot have sessions on Saturdays and Sundays,” Enrile said.

Among the senators, Senators Santiago, Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, and Alan Peter Cayetano have been vocal over the need to replace Enrile with a senator whose term ends in 2013.

'Don't be surprised if frontrunner loses'

‘Don’t be surprised if frontrunner loses’
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The race for the presidency is still wide open, Malacañang said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, Press Undersecretary Rogelio Peyuan said Filipinos must not be surprised if the winner is not among the frontrunners in the surveys.

“Elections give us a lot of surprises,” he said.

Peyuan said figures from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed some 50 million registered voters nationwide, out of a population of about 92 to 94 million.

“It would be very safe for each and everyone to think and to always keep in mind that if there are about 50 million voters and 10 or 11 percent of them do not vote, as we experienced in the past, it would be hard for us to have faith in the surveys that have 900 respondents in Luzon, 600 in the Visayas and maybe another 600 in Mindanao. That would be very, very unfair to even presume and assume that that (surveys) is the sentiment of the people,” he said.

Peyuan cited the case of Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr., who has not fared well in the surveys.

Nevertheless, he won the endorsement of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Christ the Name Above Every Name, which has five to six million followers nationwide.

Peyuan said supporters have heavy turnouts during the campaign sorties of the other presidential candidates.

Other groups with substantial following may announce their preferred candidates before May 10, he added.

Enrile: Polls would be unpredictable

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the elections would be unpredictable despite the high survey ratings of Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas II.

“It can go either way,” he said. “Well, as of now, Noynoy is leading the surveys. But there are issues raised against one another, and this would affect the minds of our people.”

“In the last hour, they will make up their minds. Until that point is reached, it would be fair and square. You cannot be sure of the outcome of the election,” he said.

“You have an undecided number of about 10 percent at this point that can swing either way,” he added. “If the turnout of the election is 70 percent, then you have around 3.5 million undecided voters.”

Enrile, who is running for re-election under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, said the Iglesia ni Cristo’s possible endorsement of Aquino would give the him a wider lead.

However, that will not change the position of their standard bearer, former President Joseph Estrada in relation to Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.

Enrile said the INC has a command vote of three to four million, which could help a candidate win an election, he added.

He was not aware as to how many voters Quiboloy could deliver, but that too could change, he added.

Based on experience, there could still be shifting of support in favor of one or the other presidential candidates, he said.

Enrile dismissed speculations of a failure of elections or the need for snap polls.

“I do not know why are they so preoccupied with the so-called failure of election,” he said.

“I have no fear that the election will fail. I don’t think it will.”

Santiago cautions Aquino vs people power

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago cautioned Aquino yesterday against his statement that the Filipino people might resort to people power if the results of the elections will not be acceptable to them.

“That is an extremely dangerous statement, because if that is the case that Mr. Aquino might be tempted to lead a people power demonstration if he does not win, then all other presidentiables who have reasonable chances of winning such as those who place no. 2 or no. 3 maybe up to no. 4 in the surveys might also be tempted to make the same threat so we will have a culture of resistance or disobedience to authorities,” she said.

Santiago said all presidential candidates must respect the results of the elections.

“There should always be caveat that the results of the elections should be accepted as regular because that is the presumption in the rules of court unless proven otherwise,” she said.

Santiago said that when she lost the presidency to retired Gen. Fidel Ramos in 1992, she filed an election protest.

“So in my case in 1992 I deliberately, voluntarily and spontaneously refrained from calling a people power,” she said.

“If you remember I was a very close number two. The president was not elected by a majority vote, and in fact he got only less than 30 percent of the vote and his margin over me was less than one million,” she said.

“But all the same I took the legal route. I filed an election protest with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. I did not call on the young people who are my avid supporters at that time to spill out into the streets because I felt extremely responsible for their lives and their safety,” she added.

Santiago asked presidential candidates not to raise the specter of massive civil unrest.

“But if they are not lucky to be proclaimed as president notwithstanding their own beliefs on their invincibility in the election process then they should go to court like what I did,” she said. – Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica and Christina Mendez

Estrada is Arroyo’s last card vs Aquino–Maceda

Estrada is Arroyo’s last card vs Aquino–Maceda
By Norman Bordadora, Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Supporting former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada may be the only remaining option for the Arroyo administration if it wants to prevent Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III from winning next week’s presidential elections, according to Estrada’s campaign manager.

“If they don’t like Noynoy to win, whether they talk to us or not, it’s normal or it’s not surprising if they swing their support to us to try to block the victory of Noynoy,” former Sen. Ernesto Maceda told reporters on Monday.

“That’s how we will overtake (Noynoy) if and when all of these people who don’t like Noynoy and who feel that (administration bet Gilbert) Teodoro or (Nacionalista Party candidate Sen. Manuel) Villar or (Sen. Richard) Gordon have no chance of winning,” Maceda added.

Maceda painted this scenario as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday ruled with finality that Estrada—who was ousted in 2001, convicted of plunder in 2007 and then granted presidential pardon that same year—could seek reelection.

The Comelec upheld its Jan. 20 ruling and dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by lawyer Evillo Pormento, who had sought Estrada’s disqualification.

The poll body maintained that Estrada, 73, was not covered by the constitutional ban on the reelection of chief executives because he was not a sitting president.

Pormento failed to present any new argument that would make the body change its mind, the Comelec said Tuesday.

An elated Estrada said the Comelec decision would “enhance my vote-getting power” and improve his chances of winning.

‘People can think again’

Those who went for other candidates in the past presidential surveys may now reconsider their choices, Estrada said.

“The black propaganda against me (was) that I will be disqualified,” Estrada added. “People can think again.”

Maceda also presented the results of a survey conducted from April 23 to 25 showing Estrada already at solo second with 25 percent below Aquino’s 35 percent, with Villar falling to third with 17 percent.

Teodoro landed fourth with 9 percent in the survey commissioned by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, a reelectionist under Estrada’s party Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

In the latest Pulse Asia survey conducted also from April 23 to 25, Aquino also led the pack with 39 percent, while Estrada and Villar tied for second place at 20 percent.

“I think their only option is to swing their support to us to block the victory of Noynoy,” Maceda said.

Last person

But Estrada answered no when asked if there had been feelers from the Arroyo administration for a possible alliance in the run-up to the May 10 elections.

“I believe that I’d be the last person they’d talk to. Because, you know, they grabbed power from me and then they put me behind bars,” Estrada said.

The former leader said he didn’t have any debt of gratitude to the administration even with the pardon granted by Ms Arroyo.

“She’s the one who has a debt of gratitude. She was the one who sat (as President). She even did so for (almost) 10 years,” Estrada said.

Estrada had spent the most part of his campaign projecting himself as the only true opposition candidate.

Villar his own worst enemy

Villar his own worst enemy
By Amando Doronila
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The fall in the poll ratings of Sen. Manuel Villar accelerated during the last two weeks of April when two issues exploded to derail his presidential campaign.

The first was the news story on April 23 that Villar put pressure on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) between May and June 2007 to release for a public offering locked-up shares of stocks of Villar’s real estate company.

The second issue stemmed from news reports on April 8 of an alleged psychiatric report on the mental health of Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III that turned out to be fake and originated from overenthusiastic “volunteer” supporters of Villar.

This report was dumped into the media stream as Villar’s poll ratings were going down. The publication of the falsified report in both broadcast and print media marked the descent of the 2010 presidential election into its lowest level of dirty tricks and smear campaign.

These news events have something to do with the decline of Villar’s ratings and the widening of the lead of Aquino up to the most recent 20 percentage points over the second-placer Villar in just a week before the May 10 presidential election.

These news developments threw into sharp relief as the underlying key election issue, i.e., who of the presidential candidates can be entrusted to run an honest and ethical government to replace the corrupt and scandal-ridden administration of exiting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The issue of integrity, honesty and conflict of interest has been highlighted by the media events of the past two weeks as the defining theme of the 2010 election.

Enrile disclosure

On April 22, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile disclosed in a press conference minutes of the PSE discussions in 2007 on Villar’s Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. showing that Villar appeared in a regular meeting of the PSE board and then had a caucus with them in June 2007.

As a result of Villar’s intervention, the PSE board allowed the release from escrow locked-up Vista Land shares for the company’s public offering.

From the record of all these proceedings, Enrile said there was no doubt in his mind that Senator Villar himself lobbied and exerted pressure to railroad the approval of his family-owned company’s request for exemption to enable him and his family to sell at a hefty premium their shares which were otherwise subject to a lockup period.

Enrile raised the issue of conflict of interest. He said that intervention of Villar showed that the latter, who was directly managing his company, violated the law. “He should have divested all his interests when he assumed his position as senator,” Enrile said.

Lirio article

Also delving into Villar’s interventions in the SEC and PSC, an article by Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Gerry Lirio came out on April 24 revealing that Villar, then the Senate president, made several phone calls to the SEC and PSE officials seeking to release from escrow about 1.2 billion of the 5.3 billion secondary shares of Visa Land so these could be offered as both as primary and secondary shares at the same time, or several days apart.

According to SEC and PSE lawyers interviewed by Lirio, Villar not only made the calls but also appeared in SEC and PSE board meetings.

Villar and his wife Cynthia, the Las Piñas representative in Congress, are majority stockholders of Vista Land, the couple’s flagship company. Lirio’s article said the couple became P6.75 billion richer from the secondary offering of 985.9 million shares that began on July 26, 2007, or within the escrow period of 180 days from the date of initial offering.

According to lawyers, this offering violated Article III, Part D, Section 7 of the PSE’s revised listing rules, which provides for a 180-day lockup on secondary shares. The article said that simply put, Villar wanted the secondary offering held at once despite the 180-day lockup period. “He wanted to seize the day while the market was bullish,” the article said. “And he got it.”

Law on divestment

Villar said there was nothing inappropriate with his interventions in the PSE, pointing out that the PSE was not a government agency but a private company. He said the government earned more than P100 million in taxes from the public offering of Vista Land shares.

Villar is not entirely correct when he said his intervention did not violate any law. He must have overlooked Republic Act No. 6713, known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Section 9 of RA 6713 states: “A public official or employee shall avoid conflict of interest at all times. When a conflict of interest arises, he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise within 30 days from his assumption of office and/or divest himself of his shareholdings of interest within 60 days from such assumption. The same rule shall apply where the public official or employee is a partner in a partnership.”

There is nothing on record that Villar has divested himself of his holdings in his company when he intervened in the PSE and SEC.

Not so long ago, Sen. Joker Arroyo called the attention of Villar that the latter cannot be a senator and a businessman at the same time.

Villar has to make up his mind whether he is senator or a businessman. He is even aspiring to be the country’s president, who has vastly more powers of intervention in official or private business matters than a senator.

Ethical issue

We have to hear from Villar whether he will divest himself of his business interests and put them in a blind trust if he were elected president. This is an ethical issue that puts him on the spot.

His interventions reveals not only the ethical values of Villar on the issue of public office as a public trust but more so throws light into his methods in accumulating vast wealth as a businessman cloaked with the powers and influence of being a member of Congress for 16 years.

The newspaper disclosures of Villar’s interventions have drilled into the public more deeply ethical issues arising from the C-5 extension project which the Senate investigated and sought to reprimand the presidential candidate for his conduct.

The disclosure on Villar’s interventions in the PSE and SEC came at a time when he was struggling to overtake the widening lead of Aquino.

There is little doubt that the last-minute emergence of this ethical issue has not only badly damaged his campaign. It has allowed Aquino to pull away with a wide margin.

Villar laments he is swimming in “a sea of black propaganda.” But the case of his interventions are backed by documentary evidence.

Self-destruction

They are not faked documents unlike the fabricated psychiatric reports on Aquino.

Villar’s response to this crumbling ratings has only sunk him deeper. Reeling from the blows delivered by the surveys, Villar is his worst enemy.

His reckless and desperate responses have revealed that he has an enormous talent for self-destruction.

Villar: Survey timing suspect; Legarda: It’s infiltrated, for trending

Villar: Survey timing suspect; Legarda: It’s infiltrated, for trending
By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines—Manuel Villar has questioned the timing of the latest Pulse Asia survey on presidential preferences showing him and Joseph Estrada tied for second place after Benigno Aquino III.

“Why did they [start the] field survey on April 23?” Villar told reporters after a rally and rock concert dubbed “Rockatropa” late on Thursday, marking the first time the Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer raised questions on the accuracy of a preelection survey.

Villar noted that Pulse Asia began field work on the day it was reported that Estrada and senatorial candidate Juan Ponce Enrile were accusing him of bending bourse rules to allow the sale of shares of the family-owned Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. in 2007.

(In answer to that accusation, Villar had said no law was violated, and that the government even earned more than P100 million in taxes from the public offering of shares of his real estate firm.)

Villar told reporters that a survey was just one “indication” of candidates’ chances at the polls.

“We have survey results that we accept and survey results we don’t,” he said, adding:

“It’s up to the people who want to make surveys… We are not stopping [survey] companies from doing it, and it’s up to the readers to believe the results.

“We will just continue with our [campaign activities]. In the end, we will be proven correct.”

‘Infiltrated’

If Villar was diplomatic in expressing his displeasure at the survey results, his running mate Loren Legarda did not pull her punches.

“They have mastered the art of black propaganda, lies and slander. What kind of leaders are they?” she said.

According to Legarda, Pulse Asia is “infiltrated” by Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) because the latter’s cousin, Rapa Lopa, is its president.

“That [April 23-25] survey is inaccurate. It’s an impossibility. Let’s not base our victory or defeat on the surveys because it’s clear that the surveys have been infiltrated,” Legarda said.

She said the results were not in sync with the reality on the ground but were made public “so that there will be trending and mind-conditioning.”

Legarda said the NP “should not be affected by surveys because we are strong from the ground.”

‘Predetermined’

She said Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo never led in preelection surveys, but ultimately became President.

She added: “I was No. 17 in the [preelection senatorial survey] in 1888, but became No. 1.”

Legarda said Pulse Asia officials had admitted that survey respondents were predetermined—meaning, she said, that they had a regular pool of respondents.

“Only the sampling [size] is changed,” Legarda said.

“If the owner of a survey company is the first cousin of a candidate… If your cousin is an owner—although he resigned or took a leave—it’s easy to know where the respondents are,” she said.

She challenged reporters: “All of you, ask around in your communities if a person has been surveyed. None. [After] three months that I campaigned around the Philippines—and this is my fourth national election—I know what I’m talking about. Not one person told me that he or she had been surveyed.”

Legarda has dropped to third place in the Pulse Asia survey of vice presidential candidates, having been dislodged from the No. 2 post by Estrada’s running mate Jejomar Binay.

Aquino’s running mate Manuel “Mar” Roxas is still leading the pack at 37 percent despite a drop of 6 percentage points.

But Legarda said: “Mar can take all the surveys; I’ll take the people’s votes.”

She said survey results reflected “the opinion of a small group of people at a particular point in time.”

“How can 3,000, mostly urban-based, people speak for 50 million Filipino voters? If you want to know the real pulse of the people, go out in the streets and to the provinces, and get to know the people,” she said.

‘Real gauge of victory’

Legarda said the real gauge of victory was the sentiment of the entire nation, as exemplified by the “very warm” reception she had been getting on the campaign trail.

“The true survey is out there,” she said. “Ask anyone who has been in my campaign sorties. People line the streets during motorcades. They flock to the markets when I visit; thousands converge on municipal gyms and stadiums when my running mate Manny Villar and I speak. How can all these people be wrong?”

Legarda said the people had inspired her to campaign harder.

She said the ratings game was a political tool that politicians commissioned to “brainwash people into believing that their candidate will win.”

Legarda said part of the reason survey firms were purportedly not treating her well was the fact that she had not commissioned any survey or subscribed to one.

“Unlike my rivals, I don’t commission surveys. I campaign on the ground. I try to reach out to as many people as possible on the ground level—in markets, city halls, and plazas. I bring my platform and humanitarian mission to them. And I also engage in dialogue with them through consultation meetings,” she said.

Popularity test

Legarda, whose claimed constituency is the D and E socioeconomic classes, issued a challenge to Roxas and Binay to go through a “grassroots popularity test.”

“I challenge my two opponents: Let’s all stand at a corner of Quiapo [in Manila] and see who will be mobbed by the people, even for 30 seconds,” she said.

Legarda said the campaign period was an opportunity to inform voters of the issues besetting the country, and to present concrete, doable platforms.

She said the warm reception she had been getting “really shows that a platform-based campaign reaches out to people, and that we are succeeding in running a campaign that educates voters.

Why Villar ratings fell: He’s been on defensive

Why Villar ratings fell: He’s been on defensive
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The adverse publicity hounding Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manuel “Manny” Villar has taken a toll on his campaign and it will be difficult for him to catch up with Liberal Party presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, political analysts said Thursday.

“(Villar) should have … shifted his strategy from merely defending himself to going on a counteroffensive,” said professor Bobby Tuazon, policy director of the University of the Philippines-based Center for People Empowerment and Governance.

“Since the beginning of this year, the camp of Manny Villar has been the target of negative stories that have a negative impact on his credibility and integrity,” Tuazon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Tuazon said that it was difficult for a presidential candidate to remain on the defensive because the positive effects of being perceived as an underdog would not last.

“It would have been more prudent for the handlers of Manny Villar to devise a more flexible approach,” Tuazon said.

Tuazon said the Villar camp could have done a better job of questioning Aquino’s preparedness, leadership and performance.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said Villar’s problem was two-fold.

One was how to arrest his own slide in the surveys in the remaining days of the campaign and the second was how to catch up to Aquino.

“[Villar] wasn’t able to surge ahead in March and in April. It’s unlikely that he would be able to catch up at this time,” Casiple told the Inquirer.

“This has the makings of a landslide win for Noynoy,” he added.

Machinery crucial

Tuazon, however, said a candidate’s machinery would still be crucial in ensuring that one’s popularity translates into actual votes.

“Manny Villar has been preparing his machinery,” Tuazon said. He said Aquino should do the same.

Many local leaders from the administration party have defected to the NP.

The latest Pulse Asia survey doesn’t determine the outcome of the presidential election, said Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes.

“It just tells candidates what they should do (in the remaining days of the campaign),” Holmes said.

Insignificant increase

Asked about former President Joseph Estrada catching up with Villar for a tie in second place, Holmes said it was more of Villar losing ground rather than the former president gaining more voters.

“That’s marginal. That’s insignificant,” Holmes said of Estrada’s 2-percentage-point increase in the latest survey. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Villar’s slide, however, was “borderline significant” at 5 percentage points, Holmes said.

One of the developments at the time of the survey was Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s allegation that Villar influenced the Philippine Stock Exchange board of directors into relaxing its rules and allowing the sale of Villar’s own shares in his Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., despite a lockup provision.

The Estrada camp alleged that Villar unduly raised billions of pesos from the transaction and that he was using P5 billion to fund his campaign.

Bong, Jinggoy statistically tied

Bong, Jinggoy statistically tied
By Helen Flores
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that two actors who are also re-electionist senators are again leading the senatorial aspirants in the May 10 elections.

Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. of the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) were “statistically tied” at first place, receiving 54 percent and 53 percent, respectively, according to results of the SWS survey published by the BusinessWorld newspaper yesterday.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the People’s Reform Party is still third with 43 percent, down from 44 percent last month.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of PMP and Sen. Pia Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party (NP) both got 36 percent and are now in fourth and fifth slots, respectively.

Former senator Franklin Drilon of the Liberal Party (LP) was in sixth place with 35 percent.

Former senator Vicente Sotto III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (33 percent) and former head of the National Economic and Development Authority Ralph Recto (30 percent) maintained their seventh and eighth places, respectively.

Independent bet former senator Sergio Osmeña III improved to ninth spot from the previous 11th place after receiving 29 percent. Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan garnered 28 percent and is now in 10th place, while Sen. Manuel Lapid of the administration party is in 11th place with 27 percent.

The SWS said these candidates have consistently been in the list of 12 possible winners since the firm’s Dec. 5-10 survey.

Former Cavite Rep. Gilbert Remulla of the NP got 21 percent to land in the 12th and last spot, followed by Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III of LP and businessman Jose de Venecia III of PMP, who both got 20 percent.

BusinessWorld reported that the SWS described as “not far behind” the PDP-Laban senatorial candidate Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, daughter of Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr.; who got 18 percent.

LP bet Sonia Roco, widow of senator Raul Roco, Akbayan party-list Rep. Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel also of LP and detained Col. Ariel Querubin (NP) all got 16 percent while another LP bet, Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, got 15 percent.

Emilio Mario Osmeña of Promdi and detained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim (LP) both got 13 percent.

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