Eric Singson Jr

16 Luzon lawmakers defect to Villar camp

16 Luzon lawmakers defect to Villar camp
By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Sixteen lawmakers from Northern Luzon are defecting to the Nacionalista Party (NP), Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla told The STAR yesterday.

Padilla said his colleagues in the Northern Luzon Alliance (NLA) made the decision during a meeting in Baguio over the weekend.

“There were 32 of us members of the Northern Luzon Alliance who attended the meeting. Fifteen of them who do not belong to the Nacionalista Party made a commitment to support Senator Villar,” he said.

He said Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque Ablan, who was not able to go to Baguio, sent word that he too would support NP standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar.

Villar was not present during the meeting organized by Padilla and Deputy Speaker Eric Singson.

If Villar wins, Padilla might be NP’s candidate for speaker.

The 16 who have pledged support for Villar include Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao and Pangasinan Rep. Conrado Estrella III from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). Both earlier promised support for Lakas-Kampi presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro.

Some NPC lawmakers earlier decided to coalesce with the NP. However, Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco and his father billionaire businessman and NPC founder Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. do not recognize the coalition.

The Cojuangcos maintained they are not supporting a presidential candidate but are supporting Sen. Loren Legarda, NP’s vice presidential guest candidate, originally from the NPC.

Padilla said the other NLA members who did not commit during the meeting in Baguio would most likely also support Villar.

“They just asked for time to consult their leaders,” he said.

He expects Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson to defect to NP because his father, former Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, has already shifted support to Villar.

In Isabela, other than Aggabao, Padilla said former Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Rodolfo Albano Sr. would most likely transfer to the NP.

Albano is seeking a House seat in the first district of Isabela. His son, incumbent first district Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, said he is remaining with the administration party Lakas-Kampi.

“I’m not the type who will abandon a friend especially when he is down. I will support Gibo all the way,” he said.

Padilla said the Ortega clan of La Union is also expected to defect to the NP.

Tropang Villar

Villar and Legarda last Sunday held their fifth campaign sortie in Davao City where they had the “Rockatropa Concert of Tropang Villar.”

The political rally drew a crowd of 80,000.

Rosalinda Duterte, 56, said she traveled two hours from Tagum City with her two grown up daughters and two neighbors to shake Villar’s hand.

“He is my idol. His life story is very inspiring. I believe he can pull us out of poverty because he did it with his life,” she said in Filipino.

Her neighbor, Salvacion Dimarugso, 59, said she admires Villar for his achievements in life. She said she supports him despite the C-5 road extension controversy hounding him.

Some of the celebrities who entertained the crowd were boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, rapper Andrew E., singer April Boy Regino, host-actors Randy Santiago and John Estrada, singers Jesssa Tarragona, Mae Rivera, Layman, Aegis, actress Ara Mina, and band 6cyclemind.

Villar and Legarda yesterday criticized their strongest rival, the Liberal Party (LP), for supposedly conditioning the mind of the public that there would have been vote rigging in the upcoming elections if they do not win.

LP vice presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II earlier said they would have been cheated if they do not win the election.

“I may be cheated, too. But I also do not think that I will lose,” Villar said.

NP senatorial candidate Ramon Mitra, a former Marine officer, said the upcoming elections would be the “toughest test” for the military to protect the credibility of the elections by maintaining peace and order, especially now that murder charges against two members of the Ampatuan clan have been dropped.   – With Christina Mendez

Relatives invading House

Relatives invading House
By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Close relatives are seeking to replace almost all of the 79 members of the House of Representatives who are exiting or “graduating” from Congress on June 30.

From Ilocos to Mindanao, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters are swapping posts to keep their hold on power in their districts and provinces.

The best example is President Arroyo, who is running for representative of Pampanga’s second district, a job held by her elder son Juan Miguel or Mikey.

Mikey in turn is eyeing to continue his stay in Congress through the party-list system. He is the first nominee of a group calling itself Ang Galing Pinoy.

Three other Arroyos are running for congressional seats.

In Ilocos Norte, former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos is seeking to replace her son, incumbent second district Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is running for senator.

Her elder daughter Imee is a gubernatorial candidate.

In the first district, Michel Kristian Ablan wants to take the place of his father, outgoing Rep. Roque Ablan Jr., who is running for governor against Imee and incumbent Michael Keon, a relative of the Marcoses.

Graduating Rep. Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur has fielded his son Eric Jr. to take his seat.

In Cagayan province, former Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr., only son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, is reclaiming his seat in the first district, whose incumbent representative is Jack’s wife Salvacion, who is just on her first term.

In the small province and lone district of Quirino, Dakila Carlo Enriquez Cua is seeking to replace his father, outgoing Rep. Junie Cua.

Mayor Kimi Cojuangco of Sison town in Pangasinan wants to take the seat of her husband, nuclear power advocate and outgoing Rep. Mark Cojuangco of the fifth district.

A second Cojuangco would most likely get to sit in the House of Representatives. He is Henry of Tarlac’s first district, brother of billionaire businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.

The first district is the bailiwick of former defense secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., presidential candidate of the ruling Lakas-Kampi. Its incumbent representative is Teodoro’s wife Nikki, who has opted not to seek a second term to help her husband in his campaign.

The Teodoros had planned to field Gilbert’s mother Merceditas, a former assemblywoman and sister of Danding and Henry, for Nikki’s seat. But when Henry chose to run, they decided against her candidacy.

Gilbert and his uncle Danding are not on speaking terms. Pitting Merceditas against her brother Henry would have highlighted their misunderstanding.

In Bulacan, graduating Rep. Lorna Silverio’s husband, Don Ricardo “Carding” Silverio, is seeking to replace her.

Silverio the candidate is a former congressman of the same third district his wife represents. He was a friend of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. He started the Toyota dealership in the country during the Marcos regime.

Even in Metro Manila, relatives are seeking the seats of graduating lawmakers.

In Muntinlupa, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon and son Ruffy, incumbent representative of the lone district, want to swap jobs. The father is running for congressman, while the son is aspiring to be a senator.

In nearby Las Piñas, Mark Villar, son of Sen. Manuel Villar, is seeking to replace his mother, graduating Rep. Cynthia Villar.

Former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita is running for representative of Batangas’ first district, whose present representative is his daughter Eileen.

In Camarines Norte, incumbent Rep. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato is running in the newly created second district, while son Wilfredo is a congressional candidate in the first district.

Rep. Chato is the author of the law that split her province into two districts.

In Marinduque, Rep. Camencita Reyes has chosen to run for governor to give way to son Edmundo, who is aiming to reclaim his congressional seat.

In Iloilo, Rep. Judy Syjuco of the second district is giving way to her husband, August Syjuco Jr., former director general of the Technical Skills Education and Development Authority.

Former presidential legal counsel Sergio Apostol is seeking a congressional comeback by replacing his wife Trinidad as representative of Leyte’s second district.

In the nearby island of Samar, Gov. Raul Daza of Northern Samar and son and incumbent Rep. Paul Daza want to swap jobs.

The same is true with Western Samar. Gov. Milagros Tan and daughter Sharee Ann, the youngest member of the House, want to switch positions.

Governors Daza and Tan are on their third and last term, while Representatives Daza and Tan are just on their first three-year term. Son and daughter have given way to father and mother instead of seeking a second term.

Down south, in Davao City, Karlo Nograles is seeking to replace his father, Speaker Prospero Nograles, as first district representative.

The Speaker, who is on his third and last term, is running for city mayor. He is up against the tandem of Vice Mayor Sarah Duterte, his mayoral opponent, and incumbent Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is running as his daughter’s vice mayoral candidate.

In Zamboanga del Sur, Rep. Antonio Cerilles of the second district is running for governor. His wife Aurora, the incumbent governor, is seeking his seat.

The Constitution bans political dynasties. That’s why its writers limited House members and local officials to three consecutive three-year terms. However, there is no constitutional provision against politicians fielding their relatives to replace them.