Aquino, Roxas: Bolante must be stopped
By Philip Tubeza, Felipe V. Celino
Philippine Daily Inquirer
ROXAS CITY, Philippines—To the top two candidates of the Liberal Party, Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante of the fertilizer scam saga stinks to high heavens and must be stopped from becoming governor of Capiz.
In a press conference Thursday at the airport here, LP standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said he was willing to do what was needed to stop the former agriculture undersecretary and alleged brains of the P728-million fertilizer fund scam from getting elected.
“If we need to go house to house, we will do that. This is a clear contrast between black and white. If [Bolante] wins here, we will again be included in the Guinness [Book of Records] for ‘only in the Philippines,’” Aquino said, adding:
“But I’m proud to be Filipino and I believe most Filipinos know right from wrong. [If Bolante wins], then the world would have really turned upside down, so [his electoral victory] is impossible.”
Aquino called on the people of Capiz to maintain the province’s clean image and not vote for Bolante and his allies.
Opposite of Jun Lozada
Roxas warned that Capiz could become the laughingstock of other provinces if Bolante won and became governor.
Aquino said that even if Bolante won, he would still have to respond to accusations that he masterminded the fertilizer fund scam that helped Ms Arroyo’s campaign during the 2004 presidential election.
“He cannot be above the law. No ifs, buts, wherefores. If you committed a crime, you should pay the price,” Aquino said.
Aquino observed that despite the Commission on Audit’s extensive findings on the fertilizer fund scam, Bolante had yet to be haled to court.
“In contrast, [whistle-blower] Jun Lozada saved the Filipino people billions of pesos in the [scrapped] NBN-ZTE broadband deal, but he ended up with a lot of cases [filed against him],” Aquino said.
Bolante, who is running against reelectionist Gov. Victor Tanco under the Ugyon Kita Capiz party, has managed to split the local LP machinery in the home province of Aquino’s running mate, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
He is reportedly backing Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar, and has the support of 12 of Capiz’s 17 mayors, including that of the capital city of Roxas.
But Aquino and Roxas claimed that Tanco, the LP provincial chair, was way ahead of Bolante in the surveys.
“If we need to go house to house, we’ll do that. But we don’t need to do that because of Tanco’s large lead,” Aquino said.
The visit of Aquino and Roxas to Capiz coincided with the 62nd death anniversary of former President Manuel Roxas and the 109th founding anniversary of the province.
Roxas said Capiz would be the political battleground between the Liberal Party and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He said Bolante’s candidacy was proving that Malacañang wanted to continue its corrupt governance and hide evidence of questionable activities.
“The fight in Capiz is the LP’s ‘Tuloy ang Laban (On with the Fight)’ versus the present administration’s ‘Tuloy ang Ligaya’ (Let the Good Times Continue),” he said.
Roxas also said he was “hurt” that the people he had helped “become successful in their political career” were “the ones that abandoned us in favor of Bolante.”
The senator was referring to Roxas Mayor Vicente Bermejo and other former LP allies who had defected to Ugyon Kita Capiz, which Bolante formed together with Rep. Fredenil Castro.
Bermejo had been with the Roxas camp for 25 years.
Earlier, LP general campaign manager Florencio Abad said the political fight in the province was not just a simple local election.
“The election in Capiz has drawn national significance because Bolante is closely associated with President Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said.
Abad also said the people were hungry for leaders with decency, transparency and integrity, and that the national and local elections were “a golden opportunity for us to choose leaders with clean records.”