Friday, October 30, 2009

Comelec extends voters’ registration to Tuesday

October 31, 2009 09:12:00
Anna Valmero

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections extended to Tuesday the nationwide voters’ registration, an official of the poll body said Saturday.

The Comelec is drafting an advisory to be disseminated to all regional directors, said Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

Earlier on Saturday, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the extension was only for residents in areas hit by power outages caused by typhoon “Santi” (international codename: Mirinae).

The Comelec’s deadline for the registration of voters for the 2010 elections was this Saturday, October 31.

In a phone interview, Melo said regional election directors in these affected areas were notified of the administrative order that was issued Saturday morning allowing residents to enlist initially and then continue the rest of the process of registration on Tuesday when electricity was expected to be restored.

Because of the power outage, the Comelec could not use the data processing machines that would have processed the prospective voter’s biometrics or signature, fingerpint, and photo to validate his or her registration.

“The voter will have to enlist at the Comelec office so that he or she can be given a registration form and then come back on Tuesday for the rest of the processing. This means that the applicant will pass through stage one of the verification process,” said Melo in Filipino.

Melo said that on Tuesday, registration will start from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight.


Villar: What you see is what you get

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:41:00 10/31/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines - If, as Sen. Manuel Villar says, he considers “every candidate as a threat,” then Sen. Benigno Aquino III must be a very big threat indeed.

At the Manila Overseas Press Club’s “Presidential Series” forum on Thursday night, the Nacionalista Party presidential candidate presented himself to the assembly as possessing all the desired qualities of a presidential candidate that, he implied, the Liberal Party’s Aquino did not.

He said he earned his billions out of sheer hard work and patience unlike those born to wealth.

“When you look at me, you’re looking at Manny Villar, not looking at my father, my mother,” he said.

“I’m not perfect. I have a lot of failures in life, I have experienced difficulties. But when you look at me, you are looking at Manny Villar, what you see is what you get. You’re not looking at my mother, my father or the tycoon behind me. You are looking at Manny Villar,” he said.

“The man to beat need not be the best competitor. The man to beat is the most popular, not necessarily the best. But you could also be the best of course,” Villar said.

Aquino, the son of the martyred opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon Aquino, is the perceived front runner, having topped the latest presidential preference surveys.

Villar was leading all the surveys until the younger Aquino, heeding a popular call to take up the work of his revered parents following the death of his mother in early August, declared last month that he was running for President.

With his every statement expressing his disdain for the young Aquino’s ability to lead the nation, Villar declared that with him at its head the Nacionalista Party, the country’s oldest political party, was all set to reclaim the presidency in 2010.

The self-made billionaire from Tondo declared that he was qualified to be the next president because of his 20 years experience as a public servant and 30 years in the private sector building his real state empire from scratch.

Villar said the next President should hit the ground running from Day One, and not be an “OJT” (on the job training) president.

“We are recovering from the economic crisis … the next President has no time to practice,” he said.

He lamented that leadership and managerial competence were never used as the basis for electing a president.

“Leadership is important because there are so many institutions in this country. You must be able to persuade all these institutions to move towards one direction, without declaring martial law,” he said.

According to Villar, a former Speaker of the House and Senate President, the country’s next President should have run an office or an institution.

“How do you show the people that you have leadership, you must at least have been elected, once in your life … you must have been selected by your peers.

“Because if you have never been elected or selected by your peers, you have never been a president of the homeowner’s association, what makes you think you can run this country?” he said.

Veep not spare tire

Villar made it clear that his running mate should possess the same readiness and competence as the presidential candidate. The vice president should not be a spare tire but also capable of holding a Cabinet post, he said.

He said the NP had formed a committee to select the vice-presidential candidate.

He said the environment portfolio was a crucial post because of the “weather disturbances” facing the country as a result of climate change.

“I love trees,” he said, claiming that he had planted about one million trees in the past 25 years.

The audience—composed of newspaper owners and columnists, former and present government officials, businessmen and members of the diplomatic corps—took this to mean that he was alluding to Sen. Loren Legarda, an environmental crusader and declared vice-presidential candidate in search of a presidential running mate.

He said he has not talked to Sen. Francis Escudero, another presidential aspirant who is presumed to be available for a vice-presidential draft after bolting the Nationalist People’s Coalition earlier this week.

“To be fair, he [Escudero] is not applying. I can work with anyone of them,” Villar said.

As for the corruption allegations against him in connection with the C-5 road extension project in Parañaque, he said he was glad that “all the witnesses” summoned by the Senate committee of the whole agreed that there was no diversion, overpricing or double insertion of funding.

As for how he intended to handle the allegations against President Macapagal-Arroyo and her family if he is elected, he said: “I will not lift a finger to defend the Arroyo family. I will let justice take its course.”

Erap a threat

Villar believes deposed President Joseph Estrada, another presidential aspirant, might be the bigger threat as the elections near.

He said survey results were fleeting and considered “every candidate as a threat.”

Aquino, Villar and Estrada, in that order, have consistently topped the most recent surveys on presidential preferences.

Villar defended his “infomercials” which are seen as boosting his popularity which is heavily dependent on radio and television ads.

“The infomercials merely mention what I have done. Nothing there was untrue. For example, that I was born in Tondo, that I used to sell shrimps,” he said.

The way he sees it, the infomercials are just his way of leveling the playing field.

“I’m up against people who have been in the show biz for a long time, either married to, related to or an actor himself. I think it is very important to inform the people who you are, what your experience is, what you are capable of doing and why you can run this country better,” he said.


Villar takes potshots at Aquino, cooes to legarda

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:08:00 10/30/2009

Filed Under: News, Politics, Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Benigno Aquino III, Loren Legarda, Manny Villar

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. says that while Sen. Benigno Aquino III may be the most popular among the current crop of presidential aspirants, it is he who has the ability and experience of success as a self-made millionaire who is best qualified to become the next President of the Philippines and take the country out of the rut of poverty.

“The genuine poor boy from Tondo… is ready, willing and able to serve as President of the Philippines from Day One and lead our country in facing whatever storms lie ahead,” he declared at the Manila Overseas Press Club’s "Presidentiables’ Series’’ on Thursday night.

Taking potshots at Aquino’s ability to lead the nation, the billionaire from Tondo declared that he was qualified to be the next Chief Executive because of his 20 years of experience as a public servant and 30 years in the private sector, building his real estate empire from scratch.

“But all that I have achieved would be nothing if at the end of my public life I would not have been able to translate my own success into the success of our people,” said Villar, reading from a prepared text. “Which is why I find myself on the edge of striving to achieve my ultimate dreams: that of putting together all the elements of my life this far and offering it to our people as the sum total of what I as a leader am and will always be.”

His ultimate dream, he added, was “to get this country out of poverty.’’

But of Aquino, the standard-bearer of the Liberal Party who has topped the latest surveys on presidential preferences, Villar said: "The man to beat need not be the best competitor. The man to beat is the most popular, not necessarily the best.

He said the next President should hit the ground running from Day One, and not be an "OJT President" (on the job training).

“We are recovering from the economic crisis… the next President has no time to practice,” said Villar.

Villar was leading the surveys on presidential aspirants until Aquino declared last month that he was running for President.

Villar lamented that leadership and managerial competence had never been used as basis for electing a President, but “on the basis of popularity purely and on emotions.”

According to Villar, who has served as Speaker of the House and Senate president, the next President should have run an office or an institution.

“How do you show the people that you have leadership? You must at least have been elected, once in your life… you must have been selected by your peers," he said, "because if you have never been elected or selected by your peers, you have never been a president of the homeowner’s association, what makes you think you can run this country?”

He said this managerial incompetence was to blame for the mismanagement of the economy.

Villar said he earned his billions out of sheer hard work and patience unlike those born to wealth.

“When you look at me, you’re looking at Manny Villar, not looking at my father, my mother,” he said, taking another swipe at Aquino, the only son of martyred opposition Senator Benigno Jr. and the late People Power icon Corazon, who belonged to the immensely influential and powerful Cojuangco clan.

In the question-and-answer portion that followed his speech, Villar said he has rebuilt NP, which he claimed was the party that fought for the country’s political independence.

“Now, after a hundred years, this party is fighting for our economic independence. We have successfully rebuilt this party and we are all set to reclaiming the leadership of this country,” he said.

Asked about his running mate, Villar said any running mate should possess the same readiness and competence as the presidential candidate and should not be simply like a spare tire but one who can hold a Cabinet post.

When prodded, he named the environment portfolio as a crucial post amid the “weather disturbances” facing the country because of climate change.

“I love trees,” he said, claiming that he has planted about one million trees in the past 25 years.

The crowd—composed of newspaper owners and columnists, former and present government officials, businessmen and members of the diplomatic corps—took that as an allusion to Sen. Loren Legarda, who has spearheaded numerous tree-planting projects and is a strong environment advocate.

She has declared her intention to run for vice president under a “green platform,” sustainable development, agricultural modernization, good governance and climate change adaptation.

Villar replied “there are other environmentalists” when asked if he was referring to Ronaldo Puno— his last name is the Filipino word for tree— who is the interior secretary. Puno has backed out of the vice presidential race, leaving administration standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr. without a running mate.

“To be fair, he (Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero) is not applying. I can work with anyone of them,” said Villar, hinting, however, that the NP was not talking with Escudero but with Legarda’s camp.

Replying to another question, Villar said he considered “every candidate as a threat,” and that survey results were fleeting.

“In April (2010) Erap (former President Joseph Estrada) might be the bigger threat,” he said.

Aquino, Villar and Estrada have consistently topped the recent surveys on presidential preferences.


Chiz: Presidency or nothing (2016 NOT AN OPTION)

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:42:00 10/31/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines – It’s the presidency or nothing for Sen. Francis Escudero.

Escudero, who made the improbable decision to bolt the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), said he was running for the highest post, ending speculations that he would be willing to run as the No. 2 to one of the presidential aspirants.

“It’s the presidency but not at all cost,” Escudero said in a phone interview Friday.

“If on your way there you will be eaten up by the system then what for? You can’t do what needs to be done anyway,” he said, by way of explaining his sudden decision to quit the second largest political party in the country and run for president as an independent.

Dismissing doubts about his chances without a political party vehicle, he dared his rivals to do the same.

“They should ask themselves that same question. For example, can they take a position vs pork barrel, can they openly fight contractualization?” he said.

Escudero shocked his party mates when he resigned last Wednesday from the NPC, which had been grooming him for months to be its standard-bearer for 2010, in order to ponder whether he should run for the presidency without a party.

Window of opportunity

A Waray party-list member Florencio Noel, a friend of Escudero, said his friend has not given a thought to running for vice president and that waiting for 2016 was an unlikely option.

“Another Chiz could emerge in the next six years and his window of opportunity would have passed him by,” said Noel.

If anyone could run an independent campaign, Noel said Escudero was the best man to do it based on his resilient popularity, especially among the youth.

Noel said Escudero has gained more followers in resigning from the NPC.

“There is no bad blood between him and his former party-mates. He gained a lot of elbow room to pursue his dream of being the president of this country,” said Noel.

Indeed, NPC spokesperson Rep. Rex Gatchalian said the NPC could still support Escudero should he decide to run for president.

“His departure, while shocking, does not mean an end to his ties with our members whom he worked with fondly all these years. Anything is possible including NPC eventually supporting him as president,” he said.

Gatchalian said the NPC would field a complete team, from the vice president (Sen. Loren Legarda) down to city and town councilors in 2010.

Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, the son of Eduardo Cojuangco, the founder and chair emeritus of the NPC, remains an avid supporter of Escudero despite his abrupt departure from the party.

“Speaking purely for myself, Chiz has not changed because he left us. He is still the same person, who stands for the same set of principles, who has the same aspirations for the people, that he had one week ago. I thought that he would make a great president then. Why would he not make a great president now?,” Cojuangco said in a text message.

Biding its time

With its mind-set on snagging Legarda for its own vice presidential candidate, the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD is giving the NPC all the time to regroup but not forget that a possible coalition is on the table.

The NPC is still licking its wounds after losing presumptive presidential candidate, and the ruling party isn’t rushing it to go to the table, said Prospero Pichay, Lakas-Kampi-CMD vice president for accreditation and membership.

“He [Escudero] has just announced that he was bolting the party. They’re still trying to assess their position,” he said.

According to Pichay, informal talks among House legislators for a national coalition between the ruling party and the NPC were going on but have not progressed to the next level.

“There are informal talks, but we’ve not sat down for the formal talks. The congressmen are still talking,” he said.

But once the NPC gives the go-signal for formal talks, Lakas-Kampi-CMD is ready to draw up “concrete talking points” for a coalition, which for now is merely confined to the House of Representatives, he said.

Not an option

But Cojuangco said that while the NPC was still studying its options post-Escudero, merging with another political party was not being considered.

“In any and all cases, we will retain our identity. Merger is not an option,” he said.

Cojuangco also denied that the NPC was now open to poaching by other political parties.

“There is no indication of such. Again, it is speculation. All parties will have some realignments because of preference, but we have a solid core that is thoroughly NPC,” he said.


Legarda rejects calls for presidential bid in 2010

October 30, 2009 14:02:00
Maila Ager

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Loren Legarda rejected on Friday calls for her to join the presidential race in 2010, saying she will stick to her decision to seek the vice presidential post.

Legarda claimed that her partymates in the People’s Nationalist Coalition (NPC) have been pushing her to run for president after its presumptive standard-bearer, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero left the party.

“Nagsabi na ako, pag ako’y nagsalita pinanindigan ko [I have spoken. Once I’ve done that, that’s it. I gave my word],” said Legarda, who declared her vice presidential bid last week.

“I have spoken and made my announcement before the people that I will run for vice president. We are still young and can wait. Why will I change my mind. They will only get confused,” she said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s morning show, “Umagang Kay Ganda.”

But while Legarda closed the door on the idea of running for president, the senator indicated that she was now open to be the running mate of either Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro or Senator Manny Villar.

Teodoro is the standard-bearer of the administration’s Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats while Villar is the presidential bet of the Nacionalista Party.

“Maaari na sigurong mag-usap pero hindi naman ako mauuna di ba [Maybe we can talk now but I wont be the first to mention it, right]?” she said.

Legarda said she had not talked with any presidential candidate before because all the while she thought was that Escudero would be her tandem.

“Bakit naman ako makikipag-usap, meron na akong ka-tandem? Pero nasabi ko na nga na nirerespeto ko yung ginawa ni Chiz bagamat hindi nagpaalam [Why will I be negotiating when I am already part of a tandem? But like I said, I respect what Chiz did even when he did not inform us about his decision to leave],” she said.

Legarda had repeatedly stated that she would only run under the opposition ticket but with Escudero’s departure from NPC, she now seemed to have opened her doors even for the administration’s bet.

“If I answered your question, it’s like announcing what I would do,” Legarda said in Filipino when asked by TV host Pinky Webb about the possibility of a Teodoro-Legarda tandem in 2010.

“My answer here is my color is white, the color of white is neutrality and peace. What I really want is peace,” she said, adding that Teodoro and Villar were both good and competent.


'Arroyo to wield impeach weapon vs next president' | 10/30/2009 1:53 PM

MANILA - A political analyst sees President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo running for a seat in Congress in May 2010, becoming House Speaker, and wielding the weapon of impeachment as leverage vis-a-vis the next president.

Randy David, a newspaper columnist and sociology professor at the University of the Philippines, said Arroyo plans to run in Pampanga's 2nd district and then "buy her way" to becoming speaker of the House of Representatives.

"Titiyakin nila na after 2010, lahat ng kongresista na mananalo sa 2010 ay hawak nila. That will wield the weapon of impeachment. It will be a leverage, a negotiating mechanism with respect sa kung sinuman ang mananalo bilang presidente (They will make sure that all of the congressmen in 2010 will be beholden to them. This will wield the weapon of impeachment. It will be a leverage, a negotiating mechanism with respect to whoever becomes the next president)," David said.

After taking control of Congress, she and her allies will also push for a parliamentary form of government so that she can go back to power as prime minister.

On Thursday, Mrs. Arroyo's spokesperson, Lorelei Fajardo said that there is a clamor for the President to run as representative of Pampanga's 2nd district.

“Yes, there is a clamor for her to run especially in Lubao,” Fajardo said, referring to Mrs. Arroyo's hometown.

Malacañang has said that Mrs. Arroyo is almost sure of victory if she will run for a seat in Congress in May 2010 because of overwhelming support for her in Pampanga.

Reports said Mrs. Arroyo has visited Pampanga at least 33 times this year, fueling speculations that she will be running for Congress.

David said Mrs. Arroyo has been "totally monopolizing and controlling the political field in Pampanga." He said the visits are part of Mrs. Arroyo's long-term strategy.

"It's because there is a larger scenario being played out here," he added.

Repelling a 'dark plan'

The professor said the way to repel Mrs. Arroyo's "dark plan" is not just to oppose her bid in her congressional distirct, but to wage a nationwide campaign for an "opposition-dominated" government in 2010.

He said it's not just the presidency that must be captured by the opposition but both houses of Congress as well.

"Ito ay laban na higit pa sa akin, at kailangan ko ang tulong ng lahat ng mga nag-iisip na Pilipino at nagmamahal sa bansa upang pigilin ang balakin na iyan (This is not only my fight. I would need the help of all thinking and patriotic Filipinos to prevent this plan)," David said.

The professor, however, said that he is now in a quandary as to whether he will continue with his original plan to battle Mrs. Arroyo in the second district of Pampanga.

He said if he files his candidacy, electoral laws will not allow him to campaign from December to March 25. The campaign period for seats in the House of Representatives is from March 26 to May 8, 2010.

David said he may be convinced to push through with his plan run against Mrs. Arroyo in Pampanga only if she would be decent enough to step down from the presidency right after filing her certificate of candidacy in November.

"If she declares her candidacy and gives up the presidency, I will file my candidacy and oppose her," he said.

But if she doesn't give up her power after filing her candidacy, David said "I will join the nationwide campaign to make sure the new government will be an opposition government."

as of 10/30/2009 6:28 PM


Manzano joins Erap team’s senatorial slate

October 30, 2009, 2:53pm

Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, standard bearer of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP)-PDP Laban coalition party, said on Thursday showbiz personality Edu Manzano has been officially included in his party’s list of senatorial bets for the May, 2010 elections.

Estrada said during the No Holds Barred media forum sponsored by the National Press Club (NPC) that Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, daughter of the late movie king Fernando Poe Jr., was also named as among the “senatoriables” for the PMP-PDP Laban slate.

Manzano, former head of the Optical Media Board (OMB), which is in the forefront of the government’s drive against video piracy, has agreed to throw his hat in the senatorial race.

The 72-year-old Estrada expressed confidence in the credentials of Manzano, adding that he has the intelligence and background in government service that make him more than qualified to run for the Senate.

Several years ago, the 54-year-old Manzano ran and lost in the mayoralty race in Makati City against then incumbent Mayor Jejomar Binay in a heated campaign that featured some mudslinging.

However, Manzano and Binay, Estrada’s handpicked running mate, are now running under the same political team.

Prior to his showbiz career, Manzano – who was born in San Francisco, California on September 14, 1955 – also served as a serviceman in the United States military starting from age 17.

When he announced his candidacy last October 14, Estrada revealed the party’s Senate lineup which included Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (guest candidate), Makati Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin; Ilocos Norte Rep. Bongbong Marcos, Rep. Ongpong Plaza, detained Army Brig. Gen. Danny Lim, lawyer Koko Pimentel, and NBN-ZTE deal whistleblower Joey de Venecia.

Estrada also disclosed that he had invited ABS-CBN newscaster Ted Failon to take the 12th slot in the PMP-PDP Laban senatorial lineup, but the latter declined the offer saying the TV network management did not allow him to enter the political ring.

Meanwhile, the PMP national officers and members expressed their full support to Estrada’s candidacy, saying he has “triumphantly returned to his endeared mass of Filipinos to fulfill his destiny.”

The group, in its resolution, said they are giving their unqualified commitment and support to Estrada as the PMP’s official candidate for president in the May 2010 elections.

The PMP leadership cited that Estrada is the most qualified among all of the candidates for the position given his extensive experience in government service, spanning more than 30 years, starting from his assumption of the mayoralty in San Juan until the time he won the presidency in 1998.

“The term of H.E. Joseph Ejercito Estrada as President of this Republic was unconstitutionally terminated in 2001 by the conspiracy of groups from the military, big businesses and the elite, and the religious community…. As a consequence of that conspiracy, 11 million Filipinos who voted for President Estrada in 1998 were robbed of the full six-year term of his presidency,” the resolution said.

“Because of his advocacy for the poor and the less privileged, President Estrada had to bear many untold acts of harassment, demeaning personal affronts to his person and his family, and finally made to suffer and endure six-and-a-half years of imprisonment,” the statement said. (With a report from Angie Chui)


NPC eyes tie-up with NP, Lakas (Chiz: Differences are over principles, not money)


THE Nationalist People’s Coalition is studying a possible coalition with other parties like the Nacionalista Party of Sen. Manuel Villar and the administration’s Lakas-Kampi CMD which is fielding Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro as standard bearer in next year’s national election.

The NPC, founded by businessman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, on Wednesday lost a potential standard bearer when Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, who had been with the party for 11 years, resigned.

Escudero and Rep. Rex Gatchalian (Valenzuela), NPC spokesman, yesterday belied talks the resignation was triggered by money matters.

Gatchalian said it was because of ideological differences.

Gatchalian confirmed the possible alliance with another party but could not say which will be more acceptable to NPC members, some of whom are allied with the administration and others with the opposition.

"We are in the process of consulting our members. I do not wish to preempt the process so I cannot comment (on which is more acceptable, NP or Lakas)," he said.

Gatchalian said "a lot" of other parties have been approaching NPC stalwarts for a coalition.

Gatchalian said while the party may still be reeling from Escudero’s resignation, he is sure "no party member would follow the footsteps of Chiz."

"Respetuhin natin ang kanyang desisyon at ’wag lagyan ng kulay. What is important is for the party to move on," he added.

Escudero, in announcing his resignation Wednesday, expressed belief that any presidential candidate, or president, should not be beholden to any party so he could pursue genuine reforms.

Talks were that Escudero resigned because the NPC would not entirely finance his presidential bid. Cojuangco reportedly offered only P200 million. A presidential aspirant would need P1 billion to P2 billion to run a nationwide campaign.

Escudero said money was not the issue.

"The subject of financing was never discussed, or was it ever an issue within the party. My resignation was a matter of principles and conviction," he said in an interview at Umagang Kay Ganda TV program.

"Hindi pera ang pinag-uusapan at walang pinag-uusapang pera sa partido. Prinsipyo at paninindigan ang aking ginamit at naging dahilan para ako’y magbitiw," he added.

Gatchalian said differences over the party platform led to Escudero’s resignation.

At a forum in Quezon City, Gatchalian said the ideological differences between Escudero and NPC members arose from their appreciation of the party’s platform.

"He mentioned some things on Wednesday that are not in agreement with the party platform. Remember, NPC is a moderate-centrist party. We believe that we should restructure debts (of agrarian reform) beneficiaries while Senator Escudero is for condoning (these debts)," said Gatchalian.

"The disparity is in the way we look at things. He’s pushing for legislated wage hikes, while we are more for empowering the local wage boards," he added.

"It’s unfortunate to make an issue out of this (financing) in relation to Senator Escudero’s resignation from the party. First, of all we need to respect the senator who’s among the topnotchers in the 2007 elections. He was a three-term congressman. He deserves more respect rather than us putting a price tag on him," he said.

The party allegedly promised Escudero P5 billion in campaign funds for his presidential bid next year but the amount was reduced to P200 million allegedly because of his declining performance in the surveys.

Escudero clarified he resigned because a president should not be tied down to a political party.

"I never prioritized money in my career. I live in a simple house with my simple family. I didn’t dream of having money when I went into public service," he said.

Escudero also denied claims he is losing the support of NPC members.

"The party has not become lukewarm to my bid. The support remains and it has neither waned nor disappeared," he said.

Escudero said he maintains a good relationship with Cojuangco, and the party’s vice presidential candidate, Sen. Loren Legarda, even after severing ties with them.

He doused rumors he will be joining the administration Lakas-Kampi.

"I have the utmost respect for Secretary Teodoro. However, I have been a part of the genuine opposition and it would be impossible for me to be a candidate for the administration party," he said.

Loren has said she is willing to work with "anybody" as long as her advocacies will not be affected.

Talks about a Villar-Legarda tandem floated after the woman senator declared her intention to run for vice president even before Escudero made public his political plans.

Escudero’s father, Rep. Salvador Escudero III (NPC, Sorsogon), said his son’s decision had something to do with the political reforms he has been espousing.

"It was clear that my son resigned from NPC to push for reforms. He has no ill-feelings toward the party leaders," he said.


Noli in political limbo

October 30, 2009, 4:20pm

The continued refusal of Vice President Manuel “Noli” De Castro to divulge any information as regards his future political plans has pushed him further from the presidency.

Right now, the first elected independent Vice President of the country is in a political limbo. Asked about his political plan, De Castro keeps mum and expresses interest only in queries regarding his job as Vice President and housing czar.

De Castro is also the concurrent head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers.

With the results of the latest vice presidential survey conducted by pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) out, De Castro now trails Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II by a massive margin.

Roxas, preferred by 40 percent of the respondents, took the top spot among the three top choices to become vice president in 2010. De Castro and Sen. Legarda, rivals for the vice presidency in the 2004 polls, got 23 percent each.

Earlier, De Castro had been groomed as the administration’s standard-bearer since last year, but he was still mum on his political plans after Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. was endorsed by leaders of the Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) last May.

De Castro could have been the strongest candidate of the ruling party for the 2010 presidential race since he has been doing well in the presidential surveys vis-a-vis the opposition bets, unlike Teodoro. (Roy Mabasa)


Villar hints on possible running mate

October 30, 2009, 4:50pm

With barely a month before the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy, Nationalista Party President Senator Manny Villar said his party is still in the stage of searching for his possible running mate in the May 2010 polls but reiterated his willingness to accept any potential vice presidential candidate including Senators Loren Legarda and Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

“There is a committee in our party (NP) that will study, finalize and select my possible running mate,” Villar said in response to a question about his running mate during an open forum at the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) Presidential Series last Thursday night at the Intercon Hotel where he was the guest speaker.

Nevertheless, the Senator from Las Piñas emphasized that choosing his running mate is not a matter of great concern to him adding that the NP selection committee hopes to come up with his tandem by November 15. He added that choosing his senatorial line up will also be available in two weeks time.

Lately, a lot of speculations are spreading that Villar's running mate is narrowed down to Legarda and Escudero.

Asked what role or Cabinet post he would give to his vice president in case he wins the presidency, Villar said he likes his running mate to lead the crusade to save the environment. “I like someone who’s pro environment because you know I like trees, said Villar. This statement elicited laughter and applause, hinting that Villar was probably more interested to have Legarda as his running mate.

Senator Legarda is very popular about her advocacies about environment particularly on climate change. She boasted of having responsible for the planting of over one million trees nationwide behind her Clean and Green Program.

Pressed whom he likes to be his running mate between Legarda and Escudero, Villar simply smiled and said both senators are very qualified to become vice president.


Magdalo mulls adopting Chiz as standard bearer

October 30, 2009, 4:57pm

The Magdalo Para sa Pagbabago (Magdalo) expressed openness on Friday to the idea of adopting Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero as their standard bearer in the May 2010 elections.

“We’re not closing the door on that idea, although we have yet to formally talk about it,” Magdalo spokesman Ashley Acedillo told reporters in a press briefing.

“We have to know first if he (Escudero) is willing to join us,” he added.

The former serviceman, however, admitted that before they could adopt Escudero, their accreditation should first be reconsidered by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Last Monday, the Comelec’s Second Division junked the petition of Magdalo to become a regional political party based in the National Capital Region (NCR), saying the group remains unrepentant for their illegal adventure during the infamous Oakwood mutiny in 2003.

Acedillo called the Comelec’s reason for disqualifying their group unfair and baseless.

“The resolution preempts the Court trying the case, which is now being heard at the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148. The resolution unfairly jumped at the conclusion that the founders of the Magdalo ‘employed violence’ and ‘used unlawful means’ and ‘in the process defied the laws of organized society’ during the Oakwood incident when the court hearing the case has yet to issue its ruling,” the group said in a statement.

The Magdalo said this ultimately violates the constitutional provision on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Acedillo then appealed to the Comelec to reconsider its petition once they file their motion for reconsideration next week.

“We are appealing to the Comelec en banc, especially to Comelec Chairman Jose Melo to reconsider (our petition), and if possible, revise their resolution,” he said.

“In fact, it is in the best interest of the country for Comelec to encourage the Magdalo group to join the mainstream of Filipino society and allow it to participate in the democratic process, especially in elections, by approving its application for accreditation as a political party instead of isolating us and pushing us to the fringes by junking our petition,” added Acedillo.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

A closer look at Escudero's gamble

Written by Purple S, Romero
Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Quitting the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) had been on the mind of Sen. Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero for a month already. On Sunday (October 25), the die was cast.

Escudero, who was expected to be NPC’s standard-bearer for 2010, announced his decision to leave the party on Wednesday, stirring shock among his partymates.

But the 40-year-old solon actually reached his decision Sunday, two days after his then rumored running mate Sen. Loren Legarda declared her intention to run for the vice-presidential post.

Some reports say Escudero left the party because he was disappointed that the party could not provide him sufficient campaign funds. A presidential candidate who runs a traditional campaign needs around P2 billion. NPC chair emeritus Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr. allegedly only committed to give him P200 million.

Escudero denied the reports. “It is not true,” he told in a text message.

Credibility issues

Escudero's political adviser Lito Banayo said the senator had been toying with the idea about leaving the NPC since he was always being asked about how he would deal with Cojuangco’s economic interests in case he becomes president.

Cojuangco is the chairman and CEO of San Miguel Corp. with business interests not only in food and beverage but also in power and telecommunications.

It’s all about proving to the public that he walks his talk, Banayo explained.

It was no accident, for example, that Escudero specified the issues of oil deregulation and contractualization in his resignation speech at Club Filipino, San Juan.

“…At lalong ‘di dapat mag-desisyon base sa dinidikta ng interes ng iisang grupo, partido tao lamang. Kung gusto nating umunlad at guminhawa, hindi na puwede ang dating gawi. Kung hindi…papaano niya, halimbawa, isusulong ang pagpapanagot sa tiwali, pork barrel, contractualization, oil deregulation law, PAGCOR,” Escudero said.

“How are you going to prove that you oppose oil deregulation when you have connections to Ramon Ang?” Banayo told after Escudero’s press conference.

Ang is chairman and CEO of Petron Corp., one of the Big 3 oil companies in the country. He is also president and chief operating officer of San Miguel Corp., (SMC), which Cojuangco chairs.

On contractualization, a ticklish topic for business, Banayo said Escudero would not be able to say that he will strengthen labor rights when SMC has been castigated for it. Contractualization is opposed by labor since contractual employees do not have security of tenure and do not enjoy the same benefits as regular employees.

Form new party

A political analyst, however, does not buy Escudero's reasons for leaving the NPC, for which he had been a member for 11 years.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said Cojuangco’s support for Escudero has wavered since his nephew, Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, is ahead by a big margin in the polls.

Escudero was preferred by only 15% of respondents in the September 18-21 survey of the Social Weather Stations wherein respondents could give three names to the question of who are the best leaders to replace President Arroyo.

Escudero placed fourth behind Aquino (60%), Sen. Manny Villar (38%), and former President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada (18%). (Read: Noynoy, Villar best leaders to succeed Arroyo)

“He’s [Danding] not convinced Chiz can win against Noynoy,” Casiple told He added that the business tycoon is also “shopping” for a candidate to support, and Aquino and Villar are possible alternatives.

Banayo, however, said the issue of Cojuangco switching support to other candidates has not surfaced at all in their discussions.

UP Professor Ronald Simbulan said that Escudero could best prove the sincerity of his intentions by forming his own party. “His only hope is to form a new party based on principles and think long-term,” he said.

Escudero is not ruling this out and has asked for more time to decide on his 2010 plans. He has deferred the announcement of his political plans thrice already.
Campaign shake-up

Aside from the issue on insufficient campaign funds, Escudero’s candidacy also recently suffered a setback after key people left his campaign team.

Former Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, his campaign manager, joined the Liberal Party's senatorial slate.

But Banayo said Osmeña had already sounded off Escudero about leaving early on and had recommended him [Banayo] to take his place.

As to the departure of advertising executive Yolly Ong from their camp, Banayo said Ong has "ties" with the Aquinos.

Malou Tiquia, senior campaign strategist, will also leave Escudero’s camp at the end of October.

Banayo said it was the mutual decision of Escudero and Tiquia not to renew their contract, which is to expire soon.

Support stays, unless…

Meanwhile, Magdalo, a group of rebel soldiers who staged the Oakwood mutiny in 2003, reiterated its support for Escudero amid his decision to bolt the NPC.

Magdalo endorsed Escudero for president last Sunday, a decision reached by the group after two months of consultations among its members.

“We were more surprised than anything, but that only shows that he [Escudero] is going beyond the norms,” Magdalo spokesperson Francisco Acedillo said.

He added that although Magdalo has scant financial resources, they have 40,000 members who could help generate votes for the young politician.

“We have 375 chapters nationwide,” he said.

But Acedillo said they may not support Escudero if he decides to join other parties. “It runs contrary to what he said,” he pointed out. (


Can Chiz win as an independent?

Written by Carmela Fonbuena
Thursday, 29 October 2009

Senator Francis Escudero may have doomed his chances for the presidency in 2010 when he left the Nationalist People’s Coaltion (NPC), according to politicians and political analysts interviewed by

After his shocking announcement on Wednesday, Escudero asked his supporters to give him more time to decide whether or not he will pursue his candidacy in 2010.

However, his political adviser, Angelito Banayo, said Escudero would still run. He added that a “parallel network” that would solicit and deliver votes—the youth groups, young professionals, and Tsinoy businessmen among others--is in place. (See story: Chiz to run for president; network in place)

But others doubt whether this would be enough to make a candidate win.

“It’s almost zero,” said political analyst Ramon Casiple, when asked to assess Escudero’s chances if he decides to run for president as an independent candidate.

Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), said Escudero lost the machinery of the NPC, which is key to raising money for the campaign and maintaining a presence nationwide.

Escudero’s former colleagues at the House of Representatives are likewise not optimistic of his chances.

“It’s quite slim. No candidate for president ever won without a political party. Of course, miracles can happen,” said Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco of the Lakas-KampiCMD.

"He has no chance at all. He would be without NPC national and local officials to carry him. He would be bereft of funds to fuel his campaign. It has never happened that a party-less candidate won the presidency, I think," said Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao of the NPC.

“I doubt whether Chiz would be running for president. He’ll be running without the better known political parties. Kahit tumakbo sya for vice president. Sinabi nya, dapat walang partido. Kung pangangatawanan nya, he will not be able to join any well known party,” Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez.

“Nothing is impossible, but highly improbable,” said Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Best scenario

Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin of the PDP-Laban said there’s hope, but Escudero faces the challenge of capitalizing on his new independence.

“Right now, Aquino-Roxas is the team to beat. But if Chiz can capitalize on the 'no baggage' theme, he could pose a threat to the Liberal and the Hyatt-10 luggage, and the container van that [Nacionalista Party's Manny] Villar is pushing,” Locsin said.

Two congressmen—Escudero's former party mate Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra and Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP)--are optimistic that Escudero can still maintain his following.

“His chances may be the same as before because most voters here don’t look at a candidate’s party,” said Angara.

“Votes of Chiz are his and not NPC’s. While we are sad that he left, we wish him well. Friendship goes beyond politics,” said Mitra.

But even with his current supporters, Escudero won't win the elections--assuming voter preferences don't change.

Escudero placed fourth place in the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted September 18-21 with 15% support. The top three in the survey were Liberal Party’s Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (60%), Senator Manuel Villar (37%), and former President Joseph Estrada (18%). Respondents were allowed to give 3 names. (Read: Noynoy, Villar best leaders to succeed Arroyo)

No machinery, not enough time

Even party-list representative Satur Ocampo of the leftist Bayan Muna acknowledges that political machinery is important.

“Campaigning for president requires a strong machinery with ample funds. This is normally provided by a political party. The only alternative for an independent candidacy is for Chiz to whip together networks of supporters into a nationwide movement to get him elected as president,” Ocampo said.

But Rep. Antonino believes Escudero doesn’t have the time to expand his current network.

“My father, the late Senator Gaudencio Antonino ran as independent and won, but he prepared for almost three years going all over the Philippines setting up his machinery. Escudero has no more time to do that,” Antonino said. His father was elected senator in 1961.

NPC spokesman Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian said Escuero would have had a better chance if he stayed with the NPC.

“Personally, we respect his decision to bolt the party and to run as independent. But when you run for a national position, having a party definitely helps. Compare it to a [human] body: the party is your brain, mouth, muscles, nerve center. It’s your communication and logistical support. That applies to all candidates,” Gatchalian said.

Who will get Chiz’s votes?

The next question now is, who will get Escudero’s votes?

“Chiz is a significant No. 4... Saan pupunta ang botong yan?....Kung makukuha ni Noynoy, lalayo lamang nya kay Villar. Kung makukuha ni Erap, aakyat din sya,” said Golez.

“That’s going to be a battle royale for all these votes,” Golez added.

Based on a privately-commissioned SWS survey conducted September 5-6, 2009 in vote-rich areas of Luzon, voter preferences for Aquino increased when Escudero's name was not included in the pre-selected list of names given to 1,200 respondents. (Read: 50% prefer Noynoy in vote-rich Luzon areas: SWS )

From a list of five names, which included Escudero, the preferences were: Aquino--50%; Villar--14%; Estrada--13%; Escudero--12%; Noli de Castro--7%; Don't know--2%; None--1%. Aquino's lead over Villar is 36%.

From a list of four names--Aquino, Villar, Estrada, de Castro--meaning without Escudero, Aquino's lead over Villar is 38%, or 2% higher.

De Castro--8%.
Don't know--1%

From a list of only three names--Aquino, Villar, de Castro--or without Escudero and Estrada, Aquino's lead over Villar is 42%.

De Castro--9%.
Estrada--2% (volunteered Estrada's name even if it was not on the list)
Don't know--1%



Sotto: Problem is NPC has no substitute for Escudero

October 30, 2009 03:01:00
Christian V. Esguerra Leila Salaverria Rey M. Nasol Inquirer Southern Luzon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — The political party that Sen. Francis Escudero has abandoned may still end up supporting his candidacy in case he joins the May 2010 presidential election.

“There remains the option that we will continue supporting Chiz (Escudero’s nickname) if he runs for president and we will still field a full NPC slate,” former Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, an NPC member, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Thursday. He was present in the emergency meeting of officials of the Nationalist People’s Coalition called shortly after Escudero, hitherto the party’s perceived standard-bearer announced he was out of there.

Sotto said the party was left with no substitute for Escudero as presidential candidate even as it was also preparing a full slate both for the national and local elections.

“No NPC member has signified his intention to run for president. That’s the problem,” he said.

Sotto, also the chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board, acknowledged that Escudero’s departure from the NPC “demoralized” some members.

“I won’t call it a dilemma, but it’s a real problem because you suddenly lost a presidential candidate,” he said.

Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez said Escudero’s announcement that he would not need a political party should he run for president shackled him to remaining party-less, a condition that may not be ideal in Philippine politics.

Like whale shark’s fate

Golez also wondered how Escudero would fare after he left the NPC to which he belonged for over a decade, as he noted the death of a whale shark, which he said met its tragic fate when it was out of its natural habitat in Sorsogon, Escudero’s home province.

Politicians supportive of Escudero’s presidential bid and who were planning to affiliate themselves with the NPC wanted to know what was next for them.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, who has left the administration party and has backed Escudero, said the group would meet with key leaders of the NPC next week to discuss their options.

Villafuerte said the group was composed of mayors, governors and those who wanted to be governors and representatives.

They are supportive of the Escudero-Legarda tandem, though they are not necessarily members of the NPC, said the Camarines Sur lawmaker.

“While we have not formalized it, we have committed from the very beginning. With these changes, we will have to reassemble,” Villafuerte said in a phone interview.

He said the members of the group would compare notes with the NPC and would evaluate their options.

Two other options

In the meeting at the NPC Clubhouse on Balete Drive in Quezon City, which was attended by some 30 members, Sotto said the party came up with two other possible courses of action in the wake of Escudero’s resignation from the party.

He said the top option would be for the party to ignore Escudero’s decision and proceed with its full lineup of candidates, from the vice president down to mayors.

In that case, he said the NPC would still be in search of a standard-bearer.

“Just because a presidential candidate or a single member of the NPC left doesn’t mean the rest won’t move anymore,” Sotto said in Filipino.

The third option was for the NPC to coalesce with other political parties such as the administration’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD, Sen. Manuel Villar’s Nacionalista Party, and Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s Liberal Party.


Sotto said the third option could be a longshot judging by the reaction of some NPC members in the meeting.

He said some of the members were vocal in their objection to the idea of coalescing with the ruling party, while others rejected a coalition with the Partido ng Masang Pilipino of former President Joseph Estrada.

Sotto said the choice of which political party to coalesce with would also depend on it accommodating the NPC’s vice presidential candidate, Sen. Loren Legarda.

So far, he said only Villar and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, the preferred standard-bearer of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, were without a running mate.

Legarda earlier rejected the invitation to run with Teodoro.

Sotto said the NPC had agreed to determine its course of action during its general assembly on Nov. 5.

Loren: Rallying point

Legarda has become the NPC rallying point after the party was deserted by Escudero.

Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian, NPC spokesperson, said that while the party was searching for a new standard-bearer or thinking of whether it would even field one, its focal point would be its vice presidential candidate.

“We will rally around her, support her. We will put all our effort in making sure she gets the vice presidency,” he said.

After Escudero announced his surprising decision to bolt the party the other day, Legarda had quickly declared that she would be staying with the NPC as its vice-presidential candidate.

Gatchalian also said the NPC was not a jailhouse in response to Escudero’s statement that an aspiring president could not carry out his plans when “his hands and feet are shackled, his eyes are blindfolded and mouth gagged.”

He said he felt offended at allegations that Escudero left the party because he was not assured of enough funds for his 2010 campaign.


He said the senator deserved more respect than putting a price tag on him, adding that he was accepting Escudero’s reasons for leaving at face value.

Unlike Bicolano politicians, militant groups in the Bicol region are jubilant over Escudero’s resignation from the NPC.

“Chiz made the right move in leaving NPC,” said Tessa Lopez, the regional public information officer of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Bikol (Bayan-Bikol).

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Bikol (KMP-Bikol) also welcomed Escudero’s move.

RP’s biggest landlord

“At long last, Chiz has escaped the stranglehold of [Eduardo] Danding [Cojuangco Jr.] and is now free to decide on his own. This is a welcome news for us, peasants, particularly coconut farmers because Danding is the biggest landlord in the country and until now he is still the one benefiting from the coconut levy funds,” said Felix Paz, chair of KMP-Bikol.

Cojuangco is the chair emeritus of the NPC and the chair of San Miguel Corp. where coconut levy funds own a big stake.

Lopez said he begged to disagree with those saying that what Escudero did was political suicide.

“Actually, what he did bolstered his political stock and would help him to be accepted by more people who are turned off by his Danding connection,” she said.

New politics

The Bicolanos For Change Movement, an alliance of Bicolanos nationwide, also expressed support for Escudero.

“Such action of Senator Escudero is a manifestation of the new politics that he is espousing under the Bagong Pagbabago slogan and which must be emulated by our political leaders if we want to introduce meaningful change,” it said.


Low ratings make it hard to get No. 2

October 30, 2009 03:03:00
Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — Wanted: No. 2—preferably a celebrity and crowd-pleaser.

The low rating of Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro so far in surveys of presidential aspirants is making it difficult for him to attract a running mate for next year’s elections.

House Majority Leader Arthur Defensor said that with three weeks to go before the filing of certificates of candidacy, it was still “very unclear” who Teodoro’s vice president would be.

“Gibo is low in the surveys. That’s probably the reason why they don’t gravitate toward the administration,” said Defensor, a member of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party’s national executive committee.

“You know politicians. They also want to see a winning candidate.”

Defensor described Teodoro as “the most competent and the most preferred by local government executives and by sophisticated voters” among the present crop of presidential hopefuls.

But such a perception is still apparently not enough to boost Teodoro’s ratings.

In the last Social Weather Stations survey conducted on Sept. 18-21, the defense secretary registered a meager 4 percent, which was actually an improvement from his previous 0.8-percent rating. The survey was topped by his second cousin, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Defensor said he was expecting that discussions over his party’s vice presidential candidate would become clearer by the second week of November, at the latest.

The party’s national convention, which would “ratify” the choice of Teodoro as standard-bearer, is tentatively set for Nov. 12.

“The situation is just too fluid,” Defensor said. “There’s no positive identification on who will be (the vice presidential candidate).”

Celebrity like Vilma

Mayor Ramon Guico Jr., president of the 1,495-strong League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), Thursday said his group’s executive committee preferred to have Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos as Teodoro’s running mate.

The Binalonan, Pangasinan, mayor said the ruling party needed someone like Santos whom he described as a “celebrity and a crowd-drawer.”

“Our preference really is Vilma Santos,” Guico told the Inquirer. “She can raise Gibo’s popularity. She’s had a lot of experience and is a veteran of local government. She’s well-respected.”

Guico, a close ally of President Macapagal-Arroyo, said the LMP’s executive committee would formally endorse Santos to the party leadership before it’s national convention next month.

He said mayors would first talk with Santos, who is on her first term as governor.

Santos earlier announced that she preferred to seek reelection.


Chiz closes door on Gibo’s Lakas-Kampi (Noynoy wants LP-NPC coalition; Villar keeps door open for Escudero entry)


Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero yesterday dashed all hopes of the administration Lakas-Kampi party to adopt him as the vice presidential bet of outgoing Defense Chief Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro as he stated that there was no possibility of a team up with the administration’s standard bearer.

He said it would be highly unlikely for him to join the administration as he has been identified with the opposition for close to nine years.

“From my point of view, I’m already done with that issue. I’ve been with the opposition for eight years now and I cannot fathom the idea of joining the administration even after its term,” he said.

“I have the utmost respect for Teodoro. However, I have been a part of the genuine opposition and it would be impossible for me to be a candidate of the administration party,” he added.

His commitment to the ranks of the opposition is unquestionable, Escudero stressed, pointing out that his track record would bear him out. “It’s clear, very clear that being a member of the NPC, while most of them supported the candidacy of President Arroyo (during the 2004 presidential elections), I was with FPJ (Fernando Poe Jr.) and served as his spokesperson and when most of them aligned with the majority bloc (in the lower house), I stood up and became the minority leader.

“And in the last elections, when most of them ran under the ticket of the administration, I ran under the Genuine Opposition (GO),” he said.

The senator repeatedly emphasized that money was never a factor for his resignation and that he had properly relayed his intentions to NPC officials.

He clarified that he resigned because a president should not be tied down to a political party.

“I never prioritized money in my career. I live in a simple house with my simple family. I didn’t dream of having money when I went into public service,” he said.

But even as Escudero took a dig at Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Wednesday, in essence saying he was no billionaire, nor an haciendero, referring to Liberal Party standard bearer, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Villar, who is still scrounging around for a running mate, left his door open to Escudero.

At the same time, Aquino moved quickly to start the ball rolling on an LP-NPC coalition, saying he will be seeking a meeting with his uncle, business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, the founder of the NPC.

Aquino intimated that a coalition between the LP and the NPC is easy since both parties have the same positions against the Arroyo administration.

Villar, for his part, yesterday that he is not closing his doors on the neophyte senator even if he had previously issued pronouncements dismissing the possibility of running in the same Villar banner.

“The NP is open to anyone who wants to join or align with us. He (Escudero) is a highly respected member of the Senate and I respect whatever decision he makes. I know he studied well his decision.

“I do not judge a person on account of what he says or does not say. There may be basis for his saying it at that time. But maybe too, if I talk to him, and tell him that what he had earlier suspected (on the corruption case involving the double insertion in the C5 road) is not true, that statement he made no longer applies. There are many issues such as these,” Villar said in Tagalog.

At the same time, however, Villar yesterday bolstered the possibility of his forming a tandem with Sen. Loren Legarda for the coming May 2010 elections saying he does not discount the merging of forces of their respective parties.

Villar admitted that his NP and Legarda’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) have long been holding talks and almost fell short of discussing the matter of negotiating Legarda’s entry as his running mate.

“It’s possible. I am just saying that everything is possible,” Villar told reporters in an interview, when asked about the reported coalition NPC might have with the NP where he is the party president.

“I don’t see any problem in dealing with them or their dealing with us as a party. For as long as we share the same advocacy and causes, that of advancing the interests of the poor, then there is not much to settle between us,” he said.

“An alliance with another party does not necessarily mean a defection to another political organization,” he pointed out.

“There are those who would support another presidential candidate and that happens. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to leave their party and join NP. This is just a NP-led coalition. We have a coalition with local parties, national parties. We welcome those who share the same platform with us,” he said.

He admitted that their respective parties continue to hold talks and will declare their chosen candidates when the right time comes.

Escudero appears to have boxed himself in, as far as decisions go, but his political strategist, Lito Banayo, insists that Escudero will seek the presidency, saying that while his principal no longer has a political party, he still has a “campaign structure” that will propel him to victory.

Tribune sources, however said, that Escudero may end up not running for higher office but couldn’t say so in front of his youth supporters.

“He may declare and run for the presidency, but with the collapse of his plans for high office, it is likely that Chiz will opt out sometime in January,” the sources said. “Chiz already had funding problems while he was the bet of the NPC. What more today, when he is party-less?,” the sources added.

Escudero, however, in interviews after he dropped his bolting party bombshell, dismissed reports that his decision was due to the alleged inability of his group to fund his presidential campaign.

“It’s not true. I’m denying it vehemently, that money was an issue, was the reason. Funding was not the core issue and there never was a discussion on this within the party. My resignation was a matter of principles and conviction,” he said in a television interview.

Reports on Escudero and his party encountering some financial problems to bankroll his presidential bid came out immediately after he made public his move to bolt the NPC and left his presidential bid hanging.

Administration coalition’s chief political strategist, Secretary Gabby Claudio, reportedly said it would not be the ruling party to make the first move and offer Escudero the vice presidential slot.

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Lorelei Fajardo, meanwhile, maintained yesterday that it still too early to entertain speculations as many developments are yet to unfold given that there already occurred many unexpected twists in the political scene while approaching the onset of the official filing of certificates of candidacy by those who have aspirations of leadership for 2010.

Fajardo also said that President Arroyo, who also serves as Lakas-Kampi CMD chairman, has not said anything so far with regard to the latest political plans of the administration party since she has maintained the position that she will leave everything for the party majority to decide on political matters.

“The president has always deferred to the party leadership. You see, even in the selection process (where) Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (was) chosen by the executives of the (Lakas-Kampi CMD) party, the President was hands off and she said she is going to follow whatever the decision of the majority party,” Fajardo said.

The NPC also yesterday said that Escudero resigned because of some ideological differences with the party and not about the lack of financial support from the party leadership.

According to Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian, NPC spokesman, the party was not offended by his resignation because “we respect his (Escudero’s) decision.”

“We respect our party members and we respect out former party members. We may not agree with what he said said but we respect what he said,” Gatchalian stressed.

Gatchalian was trying to douse speculations raised by reporters that the resignation of Escudero was “all about money.”

Gatchalian said that party members are saddened by the persistent issue of “money matters” being infused into the resignation of Escudero from the party.

He said that aside from Escudero, the NPC as a party also deserves the respect because the party is not about money neither other political parties.

Gatchalian explained that there are some disparities in the ideological stand of Escudero and the party particularly about the issue of re-structuring the payment of the loans of the farmers; the wage hike and the pork barrel.

Gatchalian noted that Escudero wants to condone the debts of the farmers while the party wants to re-structure it. He also said that Escudero pushes legislated wage hike while the party is more for empowering the local wage boards, Gatchalian said.

He said that there is also a difference on the issue of the pork barrel which is acceptable to the party while Escudero wants a line budgeting scheme where all the projects are listed and funded by the national government.

“Remember that the NPC is a moderate-center party, we believe that we should re-structure debts of the beneficiaries but Senator Escudero thinks we should condone them. Already there is that disparity in the way we see things.”

He added that “as a standard bearer you have to be the alter ego of the majority of the party members to show that you actually believe in what the most of the party members believe in. Maybe he cannot project our own platform.”

Gatchalian said that without Escudero the party can look for other presidential candidate whose platform could jibe with theirs.

The youngest among the presidential frontrunners, Escudero is expected to finally announce his plans after consultations with allies and supporters before the deadline for the filing candidacies on Nov. 30. With Angie M. Rosales, Aytch de la Cruz and Gerry Baldo


'There is a clamor for GMA to run'

(The Philippine Star) Updated October 30, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Kapampangans are clamoring for President Arroyo to run for Congress representing the second district of Pampanga next year, Malacañang said yesterday.

Mrs. Arroyo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said she faces no legal impediment if she runs for another office without resigning from the presidency.

Speaking to reporters, deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo, who is also presidential assistant for central Luzon, said residents of Pampanga told her that they want Mrs. Arroyo to run for Congress.

“I would say yes, especially in Lubao,” she said when asked whether there is a call in Pampanga for the President to run for a seat in the House of Representatives.

However, Fajardo refused to venture a guess on whether Mrs. Arroyo would heed the clamor for her to run.

“Because we don’t talk about it,” she said.

Pampanga’s second congressional district is currently held by Mrs. Arroyo’s son, Juan Miguel Arroyo.

Fajardo said she knows whatever decision Mrs. Arroyo would make would be for her, the country and the people of Pampanga.

“I defer to the wisdom of the President,” she said. “I have very strong faith in her.”

Presidential economic spokesman Gary Olivar said Mrs. Arroyo is happier when she’s in Pampanga.

“The President is happy whenever she directly meets with the people,” he said.

Mrs. Arroyo remains mum on reports that she plans to run for Congress following numerous visits to her home province in the past several months.

Mrs. Arroyo has paid at least 35 visits to Pampanga, including her hometown Lubao, this year.

She is scheduled to inspect projects in the province today, the second time she does so this week.

Last Tuesday, she held her Cabinet meeting in San Fernando, Pampanga.

‘Too late for Giron’

Mrs. Arroyo’s election lawyer said it was “too late” for a taxpayer to ask the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of a Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution that would allow her to run for Congress next year.

In a legal opinion sent to The STAR, lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the petition of Article 64 Movement head Henry Giron questioning the constitutionality of Section 14 of RA 9006, which repealed Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code, was already “too late” as the Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue in 2003.

“The constitutionality of the repeal of Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code, which provided for the automatic resignation of an elective official who runs for another elective position had already been upheld and affirmed by the Supreme Court as early as 2003,” he said.

In the case of. Rodolfo Fariñas vs. Executive Secretary, petitioners had argued that the repeal of Section 67 was unconstitutional because Section 14 of RA 9006 was a mere “rider” to the law that dealt mainly on the lifting of the ban on political advertisements.

It is different from Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code on the resignation of elective officials who file their certificates of candidacy for positions other that what they are presently holding, the petitioners added.

In dismissing the Fariñas petition, the SC held that “it is not for the Court to look into the wisdom or propriety of legislative determination. Whether an enactment is wise or unwise, whether it is based on sound economic theory, whether it is the best means to achieve the desired results, are matters for the judgment of the legislature, and the serious conflict of opinions does not suffice to bring them within the range of judicial cognizance.”

Macalintal said the SC has also already resolved the issue raised by Giron that the repeal of Section 67 did not undergo deliberations in the House of Representatives.

“In this case, it cannot be claimed that the legislators were not apprised of the repeal of Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code as the same was amply and comprehensively deliberated upon by the members of the House,” he said.

“In fact, the petitioners, as members of the House of Representatives, expressed their reservations regarding its validity prior to casting their votes. Undoubtedly, the legislators were aware of the existence of the provision repealing Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code.”

“Clearly, it is too late for the Article 64 Movement to question the constitutionality of the repeal of Section 67 of the OEC in view of the aforesaid decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Fariñas vs. Comelec upholding the constitutionality and validity of Section 14, RA 9006 that repealed Section 67 of the OEC.”

These arguments of Macalintal have already been raised by the Comelec in its comment to Giron’s petition. – Paolo Romero, Edu Punay


NPC eyes alliances with other political parties for 2010

10/29/2009 | 02:07 PM

With its prospective presidential candidate out of the picture, the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) is considering a coalition with other political parties, including the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD, for the 2010 elections.

Party spokesman and Valenzuela City Rep. Rex Gatchalian said the NPC will be holding consultations with all party members soon regarding possible coalitions, as "a lot of parties have been approaching [NPC] bosses."

"We will go through the consultative process of making sure we hear out all our members," Gatchalian said in a phone interview with GMANews.TV. "We want our members to be comfortable with the decision."

The NPC's initial plan to field candidates for the country's two highest posts ended after Senator Francis Escudero, whom the party had been grooming as its presidential bet, unexpectedly announced on Wednesday that he is leaving the party, purportedly to maintain his political independence. [See story: Chiz leaves NPC, defers anew announcement on 2010 plans]

Despite Escudero's decision, Senator Loren Legarda vowed to stay and pursue her bid for the vice presidency under the NPC's banner, raising speculations that the party might coalesce with either Lakas-Kampi-CMD or the Nacionalista Party.

One important factor in the NPC's decision is the fact that Legarda is firmly with the opposition, Gatchalian noted, although he stopped short of saying this might diminish the chances of NPC allying itself with Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

"Although all options are options, there are some options that are more feasible than others," said Gatchalian.He refused to elaborate.

NPC secretary general and Rizal Rep. Michael John "Jack" Duavit likewise said the party is facing several options, although he said the "easiest" would be to simply focus on building up Legarda and the party's other candidates.

"There's resistance from the varying members of the party," he said, when asked by GMA News' Arnold Clavio about the possibility of the NPC coalescing with Lakas-CMD, NP, or the Liberal Party.

On Wednesday, Lakas-Kampi president and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Escudero's decision to leave the NPC may work to the administration's advantage. He added that with the political situation still fluid, one possible result of Escudero’s decision could be a coalition between the NPC and Lakas-CMD.

“With the declaration before of the NPC that they will field a candidate with Senator Escudero, we felt that they want to be on their own. Now Senator Escudero, because of this development, may not be fielded at all," he said.

Sources said Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno had approached Legarda to become Lakas-Kampi-CMD's vice presidential candidate before he decided to withdraw from the race.

Legarda was a member of Lakas until she decided in 2004 to run as vice president of opposition presidential bet Fernando Poe Jr.

Nacionalista Party spokesman Adel Tamano, meanwhile, was coy when asked whether Legarda is being courted to become Villar's running mate.

"Right now we have a shortlist [of vice presidential candidates]. We cannot disclose who are in that shortlist as of this time but both Loren and Chiz are leaders that would be an asset to the NP," Tamano told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

He neither confirmed nor denied reports that NP and NPC leaders are discussing a possible coalition, simply saying, "If there are talks between NP and NPC it's very natural kasi isang partido lang 'yun noon, eh."

The NPC was founded by business tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. and NP stalwarts who broke away from the party pushed for Cojuangco's presidential bid in 1992.

Gatchalian said that while Cojuangco remains a respected official of the NPC, the business tycoon will not dictate what the party's next move will be.

"He (Cojuangco) does not interfere with the day-to-day affairs of the party but we still respect him," Gatchalian said. He added that Cojuangco has said he would support whatever is the decision of NPC officials and members. - Johanna Camille Sisante and Amita O. Legaspi, GMANews.TV


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chiz bolts NPC, runs on his own (Decision takes party by surprise)


SEN. Francis Escudero yesterday resigned from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the only political party he has joined since entering politics 11 years ago and which was expected to carry his presidential candidacy in next year’s elections.

The announcement came as a surprise to party mates.

Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco said he learned of Escudero’s resignation only through the media. He said the party even had a consensus to declare Escudero the NPC standard bearer, and this was scheduled for 6 p.m. yesterday.

Cojuangco is the son of business tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco who founded the NPC.

"Hindi ko alam ang nangyari. Pero wala akong alam na sama ng loob. I don’t see any reason for him to leave the party," he said.

Escudero said he informed former Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy, NPC chairman emeritus, of his decision, Tuesday night.

"Nagpaalam ako sa chairman ng partido si Governor Dy at wala ng iba," he said.

Escudero said he has no quarrel with the NPC. "Wala po akong problema sa aking mga kapartido. Sana ay maunawaan nila ang aking desisyon," he said.

At the Club Filipino in San Juan where he made the announcement, Escudero said he believes anyone seeking the presidency should not belong to any political party.

"Ang partido lamang dapat niya ay Pilipinas at ang kanyang mga kapartido ay lahat ng Pilipino," said Escudero, 40, the youngest of presidential aspirants.

He said only a united citizenry, and not a single party or group, can solve the country’s numerous, deep-seated problems.

Escudero also said political parties have become obstacles to genuine and meaningful change.

"Para po sa akin, hindi dapat idikta ng isang partido ang gagawin ng sino mang tatakbo. Dahil kung ganoon, papaano niya mapapanagot ang mga tiwali sa gobyerno kung ito ay kagrupo o kasama niya?" he said.

"Papaano niya i-aabolish ang pork barrel at i-institute ang line item budgeting kung kasama niya ay puro kongresista at puro senador," Escudero asked.

Escudero, deferring any announcement on his plan for the 2010 elections, said he needs more time to decide for himself what to do next now that he is his own man.

"This should be the first test of leadership of any putative candidate – for him to decide on his own and take full responsibility for the decision on whether not to run and what position to run for," he said.

He said a presidential aspirant, or a president, should not have his hands and feet "chained" to a party. "Hindi pu-pwedeng nakapiring ang mata at nakabusal ang bibig dahil kung ganyan po ang mangyayari dating gawi na naman at papaano niya mare-resolbahan ang mga problema ng ating bansa."

He said he intends to serve the people in a higher position.

"Hindi po ako heredero, hindi po ako bilyonaryo kaya kailangang timbangin ko ang desisyon sa pagtakbo sa mga susunod na linggo," he said although he refused to say whether financial matters would determine his decision.


Escudero’s campaign manager, Lito Banayo, said the senator’s decision to bolt the NPC and "make a run for the presidency as an independent candidate" was a "very painful decision" for him, but it was one that had to be made.

"It was a decision that had to be made because his brand of politics – people politics – would eventually contradict party politics," Banayo said.

"It was a decision that Chiz had agonized over in the past weeks and months, considering that he has always been a loyal member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition. He had consulted senior party leaders, including Ambassador Danding Cojuangco, about this. This was no spur-of-the-moment decision," Banayo said.


Banayo said Escudero has always been passionately committed to genuine change in politics.

"Chiz represents the new breed of politicians in this country – young, idealistic and totally committed to reforming and changing the system we have grown accustomed to. This was the biggest factor in his decision to leave NPC, launch his candidacy, and move forward," Banayo said.

Sen. Loren Legarda, who was earlier known to be seeking to be the NPC standard bearer, said she understands the "noble sentiments" behind Escudero’s resignation.

In a hastily-called press conference at the NPC headquarters in Quezon City, Legarda said she would stick it out with the party as its vice presidential candidate.

Escudero dismissed reports he is not on speaking terms with Legarda and that he is not in favor of her as his running mate.

Legarda on Tuesday admitted that she has not been meeting with Escudero to discuss their expected tandem for the 2010 polls.


Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit, NPC secretary general, said it is still possible for the party to make Legarda its standard bearer in the absence of a viable presidential candidate.

"Anything is possible under the sun," he said. "We’re not a dictatorship, we always decide on things by reaching a consensus."

Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian, NPC spokesman, said the party leadership will hold "consultations with the members and supporters until they arrive in a common decision with regard to their future political plans."

Gatchalian said that while they are surprised with Escudero’s decision, "the NPC will remain solid and united behind in support of other aspirants who will run for different positions under the party’s banner in next year’s polls."


Escudero’s resignation reportedly came a day after he had a one-on-one with Danding.

Escudero’s father, Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III, said there no animosity at all.

"Ipinaliwanag lang niya that he just wants to broaden his perspectives. Wala namang problema e. Wala naman siyang rancor sa NPC," the older Escudero said.

Duavit said despite the resignation, he would still support the younger Escudero him on a "personal capacity."

He said the party would meet soon to decide on the next move.

No big personalities, except for the senator’s father, were present at the Club Filipino during Escudero’s announcement.

There were groups of supporters, including the Filipinos for Peace, Justice and Progress Movement, Magdalo Para sa Pagbabago which has endorsed Escudero’s presidential bid, Youth for Chiz, Friends of Chiz and Move my Chiz, Move.


Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., a nephew of Danding who also bolted the NPC after he was given the defense portfolio in August 2007, said he wished that Escudero would end up taking the right path.

"I think he thought of this carefully… He made a considered decision and hopefully...each and everyone of us end up in a good journey," said Teodoro of Escudero.

Teodoro declined further comment on Escudero’s resignation. "It’s not a matter for me, I’m a Lakas-Kampi CMD candidate."

Teodoro also said he was not aware of any talk about getting Escudero as his running mate.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Lakas-Kampi president, said a possible result of Escudero’s decision is a coalition between the NPC and the administration party.

Ermita said a coalition of Lakas-Kampi and NPC would make the administration coalition even stronger, given that the Lakas-Kampi is biggest coalition party and the NPC is the second biggest party. – With Wendell Vigilia, Victor Reyes and Jocelyn Montemayor

He said another possibility is Escudero running as Teodoro’s vice president.

"Let’s just say in politics really nothing is impossible. And so, that could very well happen and that could very well be a signal that there would be, not fusion, but an alliance between the two, the biggest and the bigger party. That could very well be a signal and if that happens but it’s not an impossibility," he added.

He said Teodoro and Escudero could help each other pull up their ratings. – With Wendell Vigilia, Victor Reyes and Jocelyn Montemayor