Friday, December 4, 2009

7 presidential hopefuls grilled on character at forum

The Philippine Star
Updated December 04, 2009 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential hopefuls were grilled about their character during last Wednesday’s forum, with mostly students in the audience looking for the leader they could trust.

Former defense secretary
Gilbert Teodoro Jr. declared he would not become a puppet of President Arroyo, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III swore he had never lied or cheated in his public life, while former President Joseph Estrada said he knew how to respect and face the law even if it caused his detention.

Other presidential bets Sen. Richard Gordon, environmentalist Nicanor Perlas, religious leader Eddie Villanueva and Olongapo City Councilor John Carlos delos Reyes also said they would be different from the current administration during the forum at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila.

Teodoro, the administration’s presidential bet, said he would not turn his back on Mrs. Arroyo but would make sure he would not be “dictated upon” even if the current president would still be a political force as a member of the House of Representatives.

The President has decided to run for Pampanga representative in the 2010 elections.

Teodoro is believed to be suffering from the low popularity of the President despite his qualifications to become president.

He said that he would “do what is right” once elected.

“When your are the president you should do what is right,” he said during the forum.

Teodoro said he would not be “dictated upon” and would try to become a “healing president.”

Aquino said he had never lied or cheated since he became Tarlac representative in 1998. He was elected senator in 2007.

“It may sound self serving but I have an inability to lie. If people are lying to me, I would rather spend my time elsewhere conversing with other people,” Aquino said.

Aquino believed that people would go for the ones who would not be part of the current system of cheating and corruption.

Aquino, who carries the legacy of his parents in fighting for democracy and good government, said one could not change the system if he would be part of it.

Estrada said that he is already in his “twilight years” and would simply want to repay the people with good public service.

He said he could be considered “more experienced” than his opponents in the 2010 presidential race. “I’m probably not the oldest here, but I have the most experience,” the 72-year-old Estrada said.

The seven presidential candidates also vowed to crush warlords nationwide, after the country experienced the worst election-related violence in recent memory when 57 people were killed in the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre.

Estrada (Partido ng Masang Pilipino), Aquino (Liberal Party), Teodoro (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), Gordon (Bagumbayan Party), Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas), Perlas, and Delos Reyes (Ang Kapatiran) agreed that private armed groups and warlords should be dismantled.

Estrada meanwhile said the present administration does not have the strength and political will to implement the law and go after the private army involved in the Maguindanao massacre.

Teodoro said the police and military should be strengthened to have the capability to dismantle private armies.

Villanueva said private armies have no place in a civilized society and vowed to seize all the guns being kept by private armies.

Aquino and Gordon agreed that the Arroyo administration should have acted quickly to arrest all the suspects in the Maguindanao massacre.

Among those killed were the wife of Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu of Buluan, Maguindanao and two of his sisters, two female lawyers and 30 journalists who covered the supposed filing of certificate of candidacy of the vice mayor, who will run for governor of Maguindanao and challenge a scion of the Ampatuan clan.

The Mangudadatus have blamed the Ampatuans for the massacre, specifically pointing to Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao as one of the leaders of 100 armed men who abducted Mangudadatu’s supporters.

Aquino said the accused and suspected policemen should have been immediately arrested, disarmed, and confined to quarters.

Delos Reyes said one sure way of crushing warlords and private armies would be to declare a total gun ban across the nation. He also stressed that the creation of private armies is prohibited by the Constitution.

Perlas, for his part, linked the presence of private armies to the presence of poverty, especially in Mindanao.

He proposed that in order to wean people away from the quick cash
offered by warlords to join private armies, a sound government livelihood program should be established.

Gibo wants bets to forge peace covenant

Teodoro said election-related violence could be avoided if national candidates and all stakeholders in next year’s elections would forge a covenant of peace and cooperation.

He said politics should be conducted on a higher level and based on issues and political platforms and not with the usual guns, gold and goons.

As Lakas-Kampi-CMD president, Teodoro immediately expelled from the party the Ampatuan political clan that was implicated in the massacre.

“All those who will play a crucial role in the elections should respect and deal peacefully with other key players in the electoral process, including journalists, teachers, electoral watchdog groups, watchers and voters all over the country,” the former defense secretary said.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Teodoro’s spokesperson, said the covenant could be hammered out and signed under the auspices of the Moral Force Movement (MFM) of Chief Justice Reynato Puno and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PCRV) led by Ambassador Henrietta de Villa “to shift the focus of the election to a campaign of ideas and platform of government.”

“This election means so much for a nation in transition. We should take every step to ensure that violence does not influence the ballot. A national covenant of peace and cooperation, to be signed by all stakeholders, is a giant step in that direction,” Magsaysay added.

Magsaysay said Teodoro has reiterated his call for the exercise of free expression and respect for a free press. – With Mike Frialde, Jaime Laude

Original Story:

No comments:

Post a Comment