Villar 'desperate' for using own mom, says Erap

Villar ‘desperate’ for using own mom, says Erap

MANILA, Philippines – Former president Joseph Estrada on Tuesday branded as an “act of desperation” Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar’s move to use his own mother to defend himself from allegations that he is corrupt.

Estrada, who is running for re-election under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino banner, said he purposely shielded his mother, Doña Mary Ejercito, from all negative reports about him during his impeachment trial in December 2000.

“It happened  to me also during the impeachment. In fact, ang ginawa ko at ng mga kapatid ko,wag pakita sa mama ko yung tv. Kakaunti na lang panahon niya? Bakit ko sasaktan kalooban ng nanay ko? Bakit bibigyan ng sama ng loob,” he said in a ANC “Headstart” interview.

He added: “In my opinion, it’s a desperate move, parang desperado. Bakit pati magulang mo isasama mo? Dadagdagan mo pa ng sama ng loob yung magulang mo eh ang tanda na. Kasama na sa departure area.”

Estrada’s mother passed away at the age of 103 last January 13, 2009.

On Monday, Villar’ 86-year-old mother, Curita, faced the media for the first time to defend her son from her critics.

Nanay Curing Villar, as she is fondly called, said she felt helpless after hearing reports that her son is being accused of being corrupt. “Umiiyak lang ako sa sama ng loob. Tutulo na lang bigla ang luha ko,” she said.

She said Villar is a good, honest man who wants nothing more than to serve the poor. Their own poverty fueled Villar’s passion to help the poor, she said.

Villar’s sisters, Baby Villar-Benedicto and Vicky Devenagracia, also lashed out at ABS-CBN News and GMA 7 for allegedly being biased against the NP bet, whose ratings have dropped in the most recent surveys of Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations.

‘Nothing personal vs Villar’

For his part, Estrada said he has nothing personal against Villar despite the latter’s role in elevating the impeachment case against the then-president to the Senate. Villar was former Speaker of the House of Representatives during the impeachment of President Estrada.

Estrada said he has already forgiven Villar for the act but added that he had a duty to tell the people the truth about the former House Speaker and Senate President.

Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile have accused Villar of using his influence to pressure members of the Philippine Stock Exchange Board board so he can illegally profit from the public listing of his company’s shares in 2007.  Villar has denied the accusation.

“I don’t have the intention of mudslinging any of my opponents but as a former president and as a citizen, I have to inform the public about what’s really behind all these candidates,” he said.

Estrada also branded former Securities and Exchange Commission Perfecto Yasay Jr. a liar for saying that Estrada ordered him to stop the investigation on the Best World Resources stock manipulation scandal. He said that instead of stopping the investigation, he actually told Yasay to expedite it.

Willing to lose

The former president, meanwhile, said he has made great gains in the presidential race as shown by recent pre-election surveys. He said his own survey showed that he has overtaken Villar for 2nd place and is only 10 percentage points behind frontrunner Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party.

During the interview, Estrada also said that he is willing to accept a loss from Aquino or Villar in the May 10 polls.

“Why not? Vox populi, vox dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Kaya nga galit ang Diyos sa atin,” he said, adding that the voice of the majority was not heard when he was illegally ousted during EDSA II.

Estrada declined to answer when asked who he would endorse if he had not decided to run for president. He confessed, however, that he admires Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats candidate Gilbet Teodoro for being articulate and intelligent and for his experiences as a former congressman and defense secretary.

He also said he has decided to change his campaign color to tangerine after a dispute with Villar over the use of the color orange for the campaign. Asked what was different between the colors tangerine and orange, he replied: “Different ang spelling.”   With reports from Maria Althea Teves,; and Cherry Anne M. Mungcal, Halalan Volunteer

Villar's mom appeals for end to attacks

Villar’s mom appeals for end to attacks
By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Villar family led by its 86-year-old matriarch, Curita Bamba Villar, yesterday appealed to the political detractors of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., to put an end to the series of attacks casting doubt on his humble beginnings.

An emotional Nanay Curing disputed claims by her son’s political opponents that he was not really poor.

She said she agreed to come out after learning from her other children how Villar was being wrongly portrayed by his detractors as not really coming from the poor.

This came after the Liberal Party (LP) released midway in the campaign a report stating that Manny’s younger brother died of cancer at a high-end Far Eastern University (FEU) Hospital and was later serviced by the Funeraria Paz in the 1960s.

Villar’s siblings, Lourdes and Vicky (both married to Divinagracia brothers), Gloria Benedicto, and Cecille Fetalino were in full force to support their mother at her Las Piñas residence.

Senator Villar and his brother Virgilio (Jojo) were not present during the press conference and were reportedly at a meeting to plan strategy in the homestretch of the campaign.

Lourdes challenged her brother’s detractors to limit the debates to platform and put a stop to political mudslinging.

“We are simple people who live simple lives. My brother is very cool, he is super kind, that is why it is not in his person to counter all these allegations,” she said.

Gloria suddenly lost her cool when a reporter asked her sister how they will parry potential criticisms that they are using their mother in their campaign offensive.

She decried what she described as “below the belt” attacks by their brother’s political opponents, adding that their mother merely wanted to defend her son, and that they were not using her (Nanay Curing) in the campaign.

Gloria emphasized that it was the others (apparently referring to the camp of LP standard-bearer Noynoy Aquino) who have been banking on the names of their parents to win the elections.

Gloria said the family has been hurting but tried to remain quiet until the attacks became personal.

She decried the apparent biases by ABS-CBN and GMA 7 in their election coverage, where attacks against their brother made the headlines and the opponent is being pictured as “holier than thou.”

Nanay Curing echoed what her son has been reiterating in his campaign, that he is running for the presidency because he wanted to help the poor and steer the country out of poverty.

She told her son, beset by personal attacks from his opponents, to stay strong amid the new challenges that come his way. She said God blesses those who have experienced hardships in life and those who think only of good for his fellowmen.

No stopping Enrile

Villar’s mother and his siblings took the offensive almost the same time that former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile accused Villar of not disclosing his alleged moves to pressure officials of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in 2007 over the release of shares of stocks of the Vistaland Life & Landscapes from the six-month lockup period.

Enrile vowed yesterday to file a complaint before the Senate Ethics committee against Villar once Congress opens in July. – Jose Rodel Clapano

Villar, Aquino exceed ad airtime limit, says private watchdog

Villar, Aquino exceed ad airtime limit, says private watchdog
By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) The two leading presidential candidates in the May 2010 elections have already exceeded the 120-minute air time limit on political advertisements alloted to them in each of the country’s top two television networks, a consortium of non-government organizations monitoring candidates’ campaign spending said Friday.

Based on data provided by AC Nielsen, the Pera at Pulitika Network reported in a press conference that Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar has aired political advertisements with a total of 128.25 minutes over GMA-7 and 122.5 minutes on ABS-CBN.

His strongest rival for the presidency, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party, has 118 minutes of ads aired over GMA-7 and 129 minutes on ABS-CBN.

Deposed President Joseph Estrada has aired 77.50 minutes worth of ads over ABS-CBN and 65 minutes on GMA 7; Sen. Richard Gordon (Bagumbayan Party), 52 minutes on ABS-CBN and 43 minutes on GMA-7; former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), 3.50 minutes on ABS-CBN and 4 minutes on GMA 7; and evangelist Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas Movement), 3.50 minutes on ABS-CBN and 1.00 minute on GMA-7.

A candidate for a national position is entitled to 120 minutes of political advertising on each TV network.

Pera at Pulitika executive director, lawyer Roberto Cadiz, said that it was up to the Commission on Elections to prosecute erring candidates.

“We are a monitoring group. Our primary duty is to report to the media the compliance of the candidates and the parties to campaign finance laws. The primary responsibility of prosecuting the ‘violators’ rests with the Comelec,” Cadiz said.

He also said that candidates and political parties were welcome “dispute the data” presented by his group to the media, adding that it was possible there could be discrepancies in the monitoring of Nielsen as happened on one occasion when the media monitoring company corrected data it had uploaded on its website.

In a statement, Villar denied he has exceeded the airtime limit.

“The reports may give the wrong impression in the minds of the public. I’d like to believe that there was inadvertent mistake in the counting of our TV airtime, perhaps by adding the NP TV ads in the count,” Villar said.

Villar’s “Dagat ng Basura” and “Puedeng Mangarap” ads dominated the air time alloted to him, said veteran journalist Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center for Investigate Journalism, a Pera at Pulitika Network partner.

“Overall, money seems to be working for Villar, if you go by the way he went up in his ratings and if you correlate it with the billions he has spent creatively or otherwise. We have monitored that among all the candidates, Senator Villar has been the most creative in projecting himself in the media,” Cadiz said.

Pera at Pulitika pointed out earlier that a partylist group for children’s advocacy, Akap Bata, has used Villar’s popular “Dagat ng Basura” TV ad with a few modifications.

“Unless he [Villar] will dispute that Akap Bata’s campaign ads are not similar to [his ad], then we will have an argument. But if you will agree that Akap Bata is very similar to Villar’s political ads then you would have to give it to Senator Villar for being very creative. He is able to project himself as a candidate and spend an additional 60.5 minutes under Akap Bata’s name,” Cadiz said.

Moreover, there are ambiguities in interpreting the law which candidates and political parties appear to have taken advantage of.

Mangahas called these the “smorgasbord ads,” which feature a presidential candidate with his running mate and/or with their senatorial candidates.

“The smorgasbord ads have begun. It’s turning to that and they’re trying really to run around the law so they have additional credits. The law says the political party may spend P5 per registered voter. The assumption is that’s the spending for all the candidates of the political party. But what is happening is they assign the credit to different candidates of the party,” Mangahas said.

However, she pointed out that viewers still see the presidential candidate giving the final statement in the ad.

“He’s the last frame or recall element of the ad. So should this be counted to the senatorial candidates or the presidential candidate… They razzle-dazzle the law so that they (presidential candidates) would still have credits,” Mangahas said.

Cadiz said that Pera at Pulitika would be drafting a letter to the Comelec asking the poll body to “clarify” and issue a ruling on how the monitoring of political ads should really be done.

The importance of monitoring how much the candidates use their air time, or spend for their political advertisements, is to “actually shed light on… the perils of spending too much on elections,” Mangahas said.

“All of the candidates generally would tell us that they aim to lift the poor and they are spokespersons of the poor. But one candidate is spending P4 million a day [in advertisements] and another is spending P3.5 million a day. All together, top candidates are spending P7 million to 10 million a day. You could imagine the amounts of money that could have gone to direct resources,” Mangahas said.

She pointed out that a President receives a monthly salary of P60,000 a month or not more than P3.5 million throughout his six-year term in office.

This raises the question of how they would recover the amount they have spent or on the other hand, what would their fund donors expect in return if the candidate wins, Mangahas said.

“My thought is this is really a crucial peg to promoting good governance. We are highlighting these figures because we think this is really a lot of money spent on vanity and self-promotion of the candidates. I don’t think this is going directly to servicing or improving the lives of the poor in the Philippines,” she said.