Fidel Ramox

Enrile’s order: Vote for Estrada, or else…

Enrile’s order: Vote for Estrada, or else…
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines—Vote for Estrada or else… Vote for Estrada and make Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile happy.

He has asked his province mates in Cagayan to vote for former President Joseph Estrada and the rest of the national candidates of the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

“Kung hindi n’yo susundin ang iuutos ko ‘wag na kayong lumapit sa ‘kin (If you don’t heed my order, don’t bother coming to me for help in the future),” Enrile said in mock anger during the PMP campaign rally here on Friday night.

In response, a crowd of a few thousands at the Cagayan Sports Arena cheered and expressed willingness to comply with the wish of the incumbent and highest-ranking government official from the province.

“If I see that you voted for candidates other than those from the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino, I will get mad,” Enrile, a reelectionist, continued in Filipino.

Estrada, his running mate Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and senatorial candidates Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, former Sen. Francisco “Kit” Tatad, former Representatives Apolinario “Jun” Lozada, JV Bautista, as well as whistle-blower Jose de Venecia III motored through Isabela and Cagayan on Friday.

Just ribbing

A confident Enrile ribbed his province mates about the consequences of PMP candidates faring badly in his turf.

After all, according to statistics provided by his office, the Senate President managed to facilitate over P1.6 billion worth of government infrastructure projects and financial assistance to the province of Cagayan, its towns and this city.

Out of this amount, more than P72 million went to the construction of classrooms and other school-related expenses.

Enrile later sang an Ilocano ditty, “Naraniag A Bulan (A Bright Moon),” to defuse tension in the crowd—if any.

“You might think I’m really angry. Let me woo you with a song,” he said before singing.

Fruit basket

Earlier during the campaign sortie, Enrile was interviewed on radio here. He promised Cagayanos that he would devote his next term in the Senate transforming the province into a main exporter of high-value agricultural crops to Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and parts of China.

“I will make Cagayan a fruit basket. That includes Apayao, Kalinga, Ifugao, Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela up to Cagayan,” Enrile said.

He said Cagayan and its neighboring areas had a strong potential to become a major food producer because of its agricultural lands and natural resources.

Estrada’s experience

Meanwhile, former President Estrada expressed his gratitude to former President Fidel Ramos and Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr., for including him on their short list of possible choices to endorse in the presidential elections.

“I’m thankful to them if the report is true,” Estrada told reporters.

Asked why he thought his predecessor and his defeated rival in the 1998 presidential elections would endorse him, Estrada said: “Perhaps because of my experience. I’ve been a mayor, senator and vice president already.”

“I was vice president during the term of FVR (Fidel V. Ramos). Somehow, I was able to perform the job he gave me as chair of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission,” he added.

Short list

Estrada is on the short list of presidential candidates that Ramos and fellow Lakas founder De Venecia may endorse in the presidential elections on May 10.

Estrada won over De Venecia in the 1998 presidential elections despite Ramos’ endorsement of his top ally in Congress and the massive support of the administration at that time.

The relationship between the two former presidents soured when Estrada had Ramos investigated for alleged corruption in projects related to the country’s centennial celebrations in 1998.

Ramos, for his part, supported Edsa II in 2001, which led to Estrada’s ouster and the rise to power of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Fab four

“We will choose from Gilbert Teodoro, Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar and Joseph Estrada because they are the four leading contenders,” De Venecia told reporters in an interview after a forum on Philippine and German cooperation on Thursday night.

Both Ramos and De Venecia attended the forum.

De Venecia said he and Ramos agreed to discuss who would be their common presidential candidate. “We will come up with a decision in the next few days… We will call a press conference and invite all of you.”

De Venecia’s son and namesake, NBN-ZTE whistle-blower Jose de Venecia III, is a candidate on Estrada’s PMP senatorial slate.