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PHILIPPINES: Palace happy Villar is not hitting Arroyo
by Christian V. Esguerra
02 Feb 2010
MANILA, Philippines—The rumored “hidden candidate” of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) got a boost Tuesday from Malacañang.
Gary Olivar, Ms Arroyo’s deputy spokesperson, heaped praise on Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party for purportedly shunning a “negative campaigning style.”
This is the reason Villar is now closing in on the survey front-runner, Sen. Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party, Olivar said.
According to Olivar, the rumor that the administration is actually backing Villar and not its standard-bearer, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, is “preposterous.”
“I think the reason some people say that is because he (Villar) has not been running his campaign purely on the basis of attacking the President—which I can’t say, unfortunately, of the other opposition candidates,” Olivar said, adding:
“This catching up by Senator Villar with the other candidate is perhaps the fruit or reflection of what’s happening with our people who are already sick of the endless criticisms against the President.”
The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed Aquino leading Villar only by 7 percentage points—42 percent against 35 percent.
Aquino’s lead has dwindled significantly from the 19 percentage points he enjoyed over Villar in the SWS survey conducted on Dec. 5-11, 2009.
Olivar said the latest SWS results could probably be the start of a “tectonic shift” in public opinion that would put more premium on platform, character and performance over popularity.
“We are hoping that this would include the growing opposition to what we call a negative campaigning style that seeks only political points at the expense of the current President,” he said.
Olivar said the Palace was hoping that a more enlightened electorate would eventually benefit Teodoro, who is running on a platform of “galing at talino (performance and intelligence).”
“I would take it as a cautionary lesson to all people campaigning that the best way to get votes … is to lay down one’s programs and platform, character and ability to govern,” he said in reference to Aquino’s shrinking lead.
Olivar expressed optimism that Teodoro would improve his ratings once the campaign period officially starts.
“The more people get to know Secretary Teodoro, the more they hear him speak, especially by the youth in schools and in debates, he will do better in one survey after another,” Olivar said.
Teodoro, a former defense secretary, has refused to criticize the unpopular Ms Arroyo. But he has subtly distanced himself from her, maintaining that he was his own man.
Still, he registered a measly 4 percent in the latest SWS survey, trailing Aquino, Villar and ousted President Joseph Estrada (13 percent).
Teodoro himself said that when the campaign season heats up, he would focus on his platform and not engage his rivals for the presidency in mudslinging.
“I don’t need to demolish the reputation of my rival to promote myself. I’m not insecure because I know I have the capability to lead this country, and that’s enough,” he said in a statement.
Teodoro said the country’s next leader should take the lead in fostering “political harmony,” which he described as a crucial factor for the national leadership in addressing pressing problems.
He said the presidency should be “a unifying force,” and not a tool for political mudslinging and vendetta.
Thus, Teodoro added, he would undertake positive campaigning by harping on his platform of government, track record and qualifications for the presidency, instead of firing broadsides at the other candidates.
“If the elected leader will only widen the rift among us, then nothing will happen to our country,” he said.
18,000 youth volunteers
In an earlier statement, Teodoro said he believed that young Filipinos had the capacity to analyze the issues presented by the presidential candidates.
“I believe that [they] are mature enough to be objective and critical in their thinking and analysis of issues affecting their lives and society in general,” he said.
According to Teodoro’s camp, the National Movement of the Youth for Gibo now has over 18,000 volunteers nationwide.
Teodoro had also said earlier that popularity did not translate to competence in running state affairs, and that a presidential candidate must also be equipped with intellectual skills and experience.
From Nacionalista Party Website:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Are the Nacionalistas pro-administration or opposition?
A: The Nacionalista Party is part of a coalition supportive of the present administration. However, true to its character of independence, there are members of Congress who belong to the minority, and even positions taken by its leaders which may, at times, run counter to the dictates of Malacañang.
Madrigal’s ‘candidates’: It’s Aquino or Perlas
by Jerry E. Esplanada
MANILA, Philippines—Had she not joined the May presidential derby, Sen. Ma. Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal said she would be supporting either Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III or environmentalist Jesus Nicanor “Nicky” Perlas.
Madrigal described Aquino, the Liberal Party standard-bearer, as a “gentleman” and “one of my friends” in the Senate.
“But Nicky Perlas would be closest to my platform with regards to the environment. He is an environmental crusader. He also has a spiritual basis which I believe in,” she said in an Inquirer interview Tuesday.
And how do the rest of her rivals fare to the lone woman contender in the Palace race?
Madrigal, who is running as an independent, tried to sum up what she considered the core qualities of her opponents—gracious to all except one:
• Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada is “charming.”
• The administration candidate, former Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., is “serious.”
• Fellow Sen. Richard Gordon is “superman, in the sense that Dick has such energy to do everything, whether you take it as positive or negative.”
• Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas is an “evangelist and I would say he would continue to evangelize.”
• Olongapo City Councilor John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes of Ang Kapatiran is “sincere, but he's still media-shy. Nanginginig 'yung boses niya sa debate (His voice gets shaky during debates).”
• Vetellano “Dodong” Acosta of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan is “N.A. (not applicable), no comment … I don't know him at all.”
But when asked to describe Sen. Manny Villar, against whom she had filed an ethics complaint over the C-5 road controversy, an issue that had since sharply divided the Senate, Madrigal was unsurprisingly less than generous.
“[He] would really be a big disaster for the country,” she said. “He thinks he can buy everything, including Malacañang.”
‘Not in his hands’
“Just to make sure that the country is not put in the … hands of Villar, I would vote Noynoy,” Madrigal said.
While maintaining that “personally, I have nothing against” the billionaire senator, Madrigal said she earlier called Villar a “coward” for his apparent reluctance to answer the “900 pieces of evidence in the Senate committee of the whole report [on C-5].”
The report had recommended the censure of Villar for purportedly engaging in unethical conduct in connection with the road project to benefit his real estate empire. It also demanded that he return some P6 billion to the national coffers representing the cost of the project.
After days of silence
Since the matter was again raised on the Senate floor last week, the report had provoked heated debates which at one point degenerated into name-calling and unparliamentary language.
Villar broke days of silence and finally addressed the plenary Tuesday to answer the allegations.
“I don't know [Villar] well enough in the intimate side of his personality,” Madrigal said. “However, what I am against is the alleged crimes I perceive him to have committed.”
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