By Philip Tubeza, Michael Lim Ubac, Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:25:00 12/01/2009
Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Manny Villar, Joseph Estrada
MANILA, Philippines—So, who turned “orange” first?
Sen. Manuel Villar Monday got some lighthearted ribbing from former President Joseph Estrada for using orange as his campaign color.
Speaking to reporters at Liwasang Bonifacio, Estrada said he was first to use orange as a campaign color. He also beat Villar by a month in launching his candidacy in the working class district of Tondo, Manila.
“I’ve been using orange as my [campaign] color since 1986. When I ran for senator
, it was orange. For vice president, orange. When I ran for president in 2008, orange was still my color. So, who is imitating whom?” Estrada said.
He quickly added that he bore no grudge against Villar for adopting his campaign color, saying: “Everybody is free [to do as he wants].”
“It’s good that we’re being imitated. Maybe they’re impressed with us,” Estrada added.
On the eve of the deadline of filing certificates of candidacy (CoC) on Monday, both Villar and Estrada came to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Intramuros, Manila, dressed in orange shirts.
Villar arrived first with his band of supporters, chanting “Villar! Villar!”
A drum and bugle band played as he, running mate Sen. Loren Legarda and the Nacionalista Party (NP) senatorial slate trooped to the Comelec to file their papers.
An hour later, Jesus Is Lord Church evangelist Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva and his supporters from Bangon Pilipinas Party came, turning the area’s color from orange to yellow.
Villanueva was with his running mate Perfecto Yasay, former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair, and a handful of senatorial candidates.
With their sheer number, yellow-clad Bangon members were the liveliest crowd, drowning out the NP’s chants and cheers. A seasoned politician, Villar came with the usual political banners, streamers and placards.
Then orange again
A quarter before 11 a.m., Estrada’s convoy and his supporters who marched from Liwasang Bonifacio arrived, again transforming the Comelec grounds’ color into a vibrant orange.
With the limited space, supporters of Villar, Estrada and Villanueva had to civilly share the same area while waiting for their candidates to emerge from the Comelec office at Palacio del Gobernador.
Adding color to the festive scene, four teenage sons of detained Col. Ariel Querubin defiantly displayed their oversized orange shirts emblazoned with the slogan, “Free my Dad.”
Dolphy supports Villar
Estrada, who was convicted with plunder but pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is trailing Villar in the surveys. On the other hand, Villar is a far second to survey front-runner Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Estrada was joined at the Liwasang Bonifacio by his running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and his senatorial slate.
The former President also said he did not feel bad that comedy king Dolphy was reportedly endorsing Villar for the presidency.
“All of us artists are free to choose whom to support in the elections,” Estrada said.
Dolphy was at the NP proclamation rally on Sunday night to endorse the presidential bid of Villar.
The comedy king said he was supporting Villar because like him, he was from Tondo and enjoined residents there to back the senator.
Villar launched his presidential bid at Macario Sacay Plaza in Moriones, Tondo, which is just in front of his family’s old dilapidated house.
“I have been friends with Dolphy for a long time now and I am a big fan,” Villar told reporters in Filipino after his proclamation rally.
Villar also said he was thankful to popular TV game show host Willie Revillame, who was also at the proclamation rally and had told the crowd he was responsible for inviting Dolphy to join Villar’s camp.
Before the rally ended, Revillame told Villar he was willing to serve as a “bridge” to the poor so he could relay to him their needs.
Villar also thanked billiards king Efren “Bata” Reyes who spoke at the NP proclamation rally for supporting his presidential bid.
With the deadline to file the CoC set for Tuesday, Villar said his party would be able to complete its 12-member senatorial slate. The NP has three more slots to fill in the slate.
“We will be able to complete it but we still have to fix some things,” Villar said.
Before the proclamation rally, NP officials said they were opening two slots for Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela party-list Rep. Liza Maza, who had earlier declined to join the NP in protest of the inclusion of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to the senatorial slate.
There was talk that former Sen. Vicente Sotto III would be the 12th candidate but on Monday Sotto said he would run as senatorial candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and would not support any presidential candidate.
Sotto said he was asked to be a guest candidate of Villar’s NP. But he said he was in a quandary because his wife, actress Helen Gamboa, was related to Liberal Party standard-bearer Aquino.
“Not many know this but Helen, my wife, is related to the Aquinos,” he said.
Sotto said Gamboa’s father is a cousin of Noynoy’s father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.