Smear tactics vs Aquino hurting Villar, rues Tamano
By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Unburdening himself for the first time, Nacionalista Party senatorial candidate Adel Tamano said there were “misguided people” in his party “enjoying” the black propaganda meant to smear the name of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, chief rival of NP standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar for the presidency.
“The [recent] survey result showed that negative campaigning has backfired on the Nacionalista Party,” Tamano, one of the NP’s two spokespersons, told the Inquirer by phone on Friday.
“I’m in pain … the negative campaign is backfiring and hurting our candidate,” he added.
“I don’t know for a fact if there is a dirty tricks department in our camp but I am not naïve. Different political parties do [have a black ops department]. Even if you don’t have any moral issues about it [black propaganda], is it effective?” he pointed out.
This is the first time that a senatorial candidate from the NP has criticized the perceived black propaganda used in forwarding the candidacy of Villar.
Text messages circulated on Thursday that Tamano and fellow senatorial candidate Susan “Toots” Ople were thinking of quitting the NP after a supposed falling out with other party spokesperson, Gilbert Remulla, and NP secretary general, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Ople denied the rumor while Tamano said he had no plans of resigning.
“I am not resigning because if I do, the misguided people in our party and the [misguided] supporters would continue to enjoy the black propaganda,” he told the Inquirer.
No chance to talk
Nonetheless, Tamano said he would discuss his sentiments with Villar at the NP’s campaign sortie in Bulacan on Thursday night. “I want to tell him how I feel and ask him if I still have the trust of the party. Kung wala na (if I don’t have it), then I would resign.”
Tamano told the Inquirer on Friday that he and Villar did not have a chance to talk in Bulacan.
Meanwhile, Villar’s numbers in voters’ preference surveys had been slipping, with the latest Pulse Asia result released Friday putting him in a tie with former President Joseph Estrada. Aquino had a comfortable lead.
Waging a lonely campaign against black propaganda, Tamano had been particularly outraged by NP supporter Guido Delgado’s release of an unverified psychiatric report on Aquino and publicly denounced Delgado’s move.
Focus on the vision
He had also confronted Remulla, at a press conference on the latter’s admission that he visited Maguindanao massacre suspect, Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and asked Remulla to categorically state if the call on Ampatuan was sanctioned by the NP.
Remulla had stressed that the party was not involved in his visit to the elder Ampatuan.
In stressing what appeared to be the folly of Delgado’s release of the unverified psychiatric report on Aquino, Tamano said: “Why should we frame the debates in terms of mudslinging? Wala kaming laban kay (We cannot make a dent on) Noynoy because he is protected by Ninoy and Cory. Matatalo kami(We would lose) if we keep on using that [psychiatric report]. Why don’t we just focus on the competence and vision of our presidential candidate?”
The stinging result of the Pulse Asia survey on the presidential race which had Villar neck and neck with Estrada had made Tamano all the more bullish in pushing for a “positive campaign” in the last few days before Election Day.
Focus on Villar strength
Tamano said he hoped for a “change in tone of the campaign” and in the “strategy in terms of clarifying our message.”
“We should spend the last couple of days clarifying the message in terms of the vision and accomplishment of our candidate… we should be focusing on the strength of our candidate and not the weakness of his opponent,” he said.
Tamano said he would seek out Villar during a campaign sortie scheduled in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, this weekend.
“I don’t want it said that he (Villar) has to explain to me. I just want to express my sentiments and I would like him… to show what a great leader he is now and would be for the country,” he said.
On going public with his sentiments about the negative campaigning, Tamano admitted on Thursday that there could be a faction within the NP that “doesn’t trust me anymore.”
This, however, would not make him waver in his stand, he stressed.
Doing it with integrity
“This isn’t about winning and losing. It is about doing things with integrity,” he said.
Tamano, who ranked 23rd-29th in Friday’s Pulse Asia survey on voters’ preference for senatorial candidates, is seeking to represent Filipino Muslims in the Senate just like his father, the late Sen. Mamintal Tamano.