Friday, February 19, 2010

Bro. Mike backs Toots Ople; Villar, Legarda must wait

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:37:00 02/19/2010

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Overseas Employment

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—So who did El Shaddai servant leader Mike Velarde really endorse in Hong Kong on Sunday?

While only hinting that he would support the Villar-Legarda ticket, the influential TV evangelist categorically said he would vote for one candidate in May 2010: Nacionalista Party (NP) senatorial candidate Susan “Toots” Ople.

Speaking before hundreds of supporters in the Hong Kong Central District, Velarde said he was the one who urged Ople to run for the Senate, adding that he knew her father, the late Sen. Blas F. Ople.

“I will let her talk later because I will vote for her. I told her to run,” Velarde told his flock, who did not disperse despite the intermittent rain.

Ople was the lone senatorial candidate who attended the prayer rally together with NP presidential standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar and vice-presidential candidate Sen. Loren Legarda.

Velarde made a strong pitch for Buhay Party List which he said was pro-life and against all forms of artificial contraception. He also talked about his long friendships with Villar and Legarda.

Ople, a former labor undersecretary and advocate of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), said she was grateful to Velarde for his encouraging words.

“I admire him beyond words because he has been consistent in looking after the interests of his followers, including thousands of OFWs who have found spiritual strength through El Shaddai,” she said.

Ople is the youngest daughter of the late senator, who was Labor Secretary during the Marcos years and Foreign Affairs Secretary during the Aquino administration before his death in 2003.

She explained to various Filipino community leaders in Hong Kong what comprised the NP agenda for OFWs: An OFW health care program for returning OFWs who became ill while working abroad; a country-specific and experience-based pre-departure orientation program that would include the rudiments of Internet use; a crackdown on usurious lending companies; and the restructuring of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration governing board to include six additional representatives to be nominated by Filipino communities worldwide.

Ople said she would also bat for a higher budget for the Foreign Affairs and Labor and Employment
Departments to ensure quicker response to the problems of OFWs.

The labor advocate said she was against labor-only contracting and vowed that her very first bill in the Senate would prohibit abusive contracts that lead to the exploitation of local workers.

On the other hand, Legarda said Velarde’s support for her and Villar was “as clear as day” after Sunday’s prayer rally.

“The colors spoke louder than words,” Legarda said, noting that El Shaddai members wore orange and white, the colors of the Villar-Legarda ticket.

Original Story:

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