Villarosa blames Pichay for Lakas fund woes
By Tonette Orejas
MANILA, Philippines—Deputy Speaker Ma. Amelita Villarosa has blamed one of the administration party’s chief campaigners, Prospero Pichay, for problems on the allocation of funds to bankroll the campaign of its senatorial candidates.
“It’s Butch Pichay who handles the senatorial funds. I will ask Butch how funds are allocated or how these are handled,” Villarosa, the new chair of the ruling party, said in Lubao, Pampanga.
While saying that funds were solely the concern of Pichay, Villarosa said the party was not inclined to give cash to its national or local candidates.
“Money is not given to candidates. We spend it on logistical support, payment for advertisements, printing of posters and sample ballots. That’s what we give,” she said.
In Leyte, a local Lakas-Kampi-CMD candidate said he had yet to receive campaign funds from the party.
However, Ernesto Fabi, a former mayor of Babatngon town seeking to reclaim his old post, said Leyte first district Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez had promised that local candidates, at least in the congressman’s district, would receive their funds soon.
Fabi recalled that during the 2007 elections, he received his funding from the party at the start of the campaign period for local candidates. The campaign for local candidates this year began on March 26.
“I am still waiting for our party to release the (promised) campaign funds,” Fabi said.
He said that during the 2007 elections, he received P10,000 every week from Lakas coursed through the congressional office of Romualdez, the vice president for finance of the ruling party.
Pichay, in a separate interview, said he was handling the campaign but was not in charge of the funds for senatorial candidates.
He said the campaign kitty of Lakas-Kampi-CMD was being managed by a finance committee.
Asked who its head was, he said: “It’s a committee composed, of course, of the chair. At this time, isn’t it Villarosa?”
Pressed who the other members of the committee were, he said: “I don’t allocate funds. We have a finance committee to be headed by the chair.”
“[Villarosa] knows better who are on the finance committee.” He or Villarosa did not disclose names.
Asked if local candidates of the party had received funds, Pichay, Lakas-Kampi-CMD vice-president, said that as of Monday, no money had been released.
“Other parties have not yet given money to their local candidates. It’s still early in the game for the local elections.
“Normally, help goes down toward the end of the campaign. I’m not in charge of the finance committee,” he said.
Villarosa described Lakas-Kampi-CMD as “going strong, very strong.”
“We will win,” she said. “We are united. We have the numbers. Our organization is good all the way. We are not affected by intrigues.”
She said the party’s standard-bearer, former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr., was not withdrawing from the race.
“No, he’s not. Definitely not, he will not back out,” Villarosa said.
Teodoro resigned as party chair to free himself from administrative matters so he could focus on his campaign.
Villarosa said Teodoro’s win was sure because he had the support of “100 [representatives] and more than 40 governors.”
Pichay said Teodoro, who has placed fourth in pre-election surveys, was campaigning very hard.
“We know it’s an uphill campaign. This is the first time he’s running for the presidency. But I think he’s doing his best and I’m sure that the local candidates are campaigning for Gibo right now. We will know in two weeks how the efforts of local candidates have helped his campaign,” he said.
More than enough
Asked if Teodoro had been getting sufficient support from the ruling party, Pichay said: “I think he was able to get funds enough to wage a presidential campaign.”
He could not say the amount but said it was “more than enough for the campaign.”
Asked how much the party needs to push for the win of Teodoro, Pichay said: “It’s difficult because even if you have so much money or billions [of pesos], if you don’t have the right message and the right packaging on TV, you may spend billions and you’ll never get there.”
He said he was not privy to how much Teodoro would spend. “But my unsolicited advice: What is important is the message,” Pichay said. With a report from Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas