Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gibo gets Iglesia ‘support’ (Lakas candidate to hold talks with Davao City pastor)

Thursday, 11 February 2010 00:00

Original Story:

The presidential candidate of the ruling party in the May 2010 elections, former Defense chief Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, has obtained backing from the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), the country’s biggest and reputedly most politically influential religious group, according to reports.

Despite the reports, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday said that Malacañang was not about to bank on them this early.

“I hope we get it [support]. INC is very supportive of the Arroyo administration,” Ermita added.

The reports said that President Gloria Arroyo on Tuesday night thanked the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) for its support, which critics took to mean as backing for Teodoro, the standard-bearer of the administration coalition Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).

Ermita said that any candidate must value the support of any sector.

In elections, he added, one needs the backing of the INC and other big groups and it is significant for the ruling party to get the support of these groups.

“A candidate has to reach out to the electorate. I hope Gibo will do just that,” Ermita said.

When asked why the President was absent during the Lakas-Kampi CMD kickoff rally in Antipolo City, the executive secretary reiterated that Teodoro has the “capability to lead the party to victory.”

According to Ermita, another reason behind Mrs. Arroyo’s absence at the Antipolo City launch was that the President was checking on the progress of her pet projects, notably the so-called five super regions.

He said that he was “not highlighting the obvious . . . Gibo and his team can stand on their own and carry on their campaign by themselves.”

Apparently, Team Gibo can, setting a meeting on its own with one of the biggest religious groups in southern Mindanao and thousands of students there during the third day, Thursday, of the presidential campaign.

The administration party’s candidates were scheduled to visit the community of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in Davao City around 11 a.m. today. Quiboloy, the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ that is based in the city, is a spiritual adviser of the President.

Dialogue with pastor

From Quiboloy’s community, Teodoro will proceed to the University of Mindanao at 3 p.m. to meet with the students to deliver them his platform and field questions from them.

He and Quiboloy will hold a dialogue in the evening.

Team Gibo will drop by Kidapawan City in Bukidnon province on February 12 and will be back in Manila on Saturday to grace the Fatima University sports festival at Rizal Memorial and then go to Mall of Asia in the afternoon.

In explaining Mrs. Arroyo’s absence at the Antipolo City kickoff, Ermita said that the accomplishments of the Arroyo administration are a great help to the success of Teodoro’s campaign for the presidency, his running mate Edu Manzano and the senatorial candidates of Lakas-Kampi CMD.

He added that Teodoro had said that he would continue the projects of the Arroyo administration, among them the P8.04-billion Urban Luzon Beltway, the P6-billion Batangas Port project, the P20.9-billion Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway project, the P1.57-billion Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Aurora-Dingalan road project and the P2.3-billion Marikina-Infanta road project.

These and other evident accomplishments of the Arroyo administration failed to impress another presidential candidate, Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP).

When asked also on Wednesday during a dialogue with the Makati Business Club (MBC) about his assessment of the economic performance of the President, Villar said that he was not impressed with it.

Villar unimpressed

He explained that Mrs. Arroyo has had nine years in Malacañang and should have performed better.

Rather vaguely, Villar said, “In assessing her performance, we should compare it with those [of other heads of state] in other countries.” He did not elaborate.

But according to the NP standard-bearer, he would not hesitate to continue the good projects of the President, such as the roll-on, roll-off.

Villar dismissed rumors that he is being supported by Mrs. Arroyo, that he had met with the President’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, at the house of former Secretary Michael Defensor and that he had even slept at the house of the Ampatuans, prime suspects in the Maguindanao mass murder.

He told the MBC, the sponsor of the series Presidential Business Forum, “Someone warned me that it would be like Barack Obama addressing the Ku Kux Klan.”

Villar described the biggest club as the “biggest concentration of wealth, power, intelligence and years of business experience” in all forums he had attended.

He said that he had grown tired of hearing “the same old refrain” that the Philippines used to be second to Japan. “Let us stop lamenting the past and move on! Let us move forward!”

On his first 100 days, according to the NP presidential bet, he would hold a televised bidding for big infrastructure contracts “to send the message that we mean business” in minimizing graft.

Unlike Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd, another rival in the 2010 polls, Villar said that he could not promise businessmen that he would not impose new taxes as he expected the next president to inherit an empty treasure chest.

Former Sen. Vicente Paterno, one of the MBC panelists, said that Villar faced up to the questions at the forum “very well.”

“He must have had excellent briefing,” he added.

Villar’s running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda, also praised and at the same time defended the NP standard-bearer.

Smear campaign

Anybody who wages a smear campaign against Villar will have to contend with her, she said also on Wednesday on what she perceived to be black propaganda against him.

“If you had gotten used to hiding behind the skirts of your mother or you wife, you should now start working on your own. Raise the level of politics, don’t spread rumors don’t cuss in Ayala,” she said, referring to Ayala Avenue in Makati City (Metro Manila) and alluding to Noynoy Aquino, the standard-bearer of the Liberal Party (LP).

Legarda questioned why their political opponents should be talking about botox and hair dye as issues against Villar.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, NP secretary general, echoed her call.

He also took a dig at Noynoy for claiming that Villar was the “secret candidate” of Mrs. Arroyo.

“The Senate under Sen. Villar was investigating the Arroyo administration. The new Senate, with members of the LP in the majority, investigated only Sen. Villar,” Cayetano said.

NP senatorial candidate Adel Tamano also hit Aquino’s claim that Villar was not a real member of the opposition.

Tamano, the official spokesman of the Genuine Opposition senatorial slate in 2007, pointed out that Aquino was a teammate of Villar in the Genuine Opposition ticket.

‘Not opposition’

“Why is Noynoy making this claim now? Why didn’t he complain in 2007 when we included both of them in the Genuine Opposition senatorial ticket? Why didn’t he say then that Manny was not opposition?” he asked

Tamano said that this “black propaganda” belied LP claims that it wanted a clean campaign without mudslinging. “Their true colors are showing!”

He said that the Liberal Party is resorting to black propaganda because of the falling ratings of Aquino.

The LP standard-bearer said that Villar was only “not opposition” but also incompetent.

His spokesman, lawyer Edwin Lacierda, also on Wednesday said the Nacionalista Party bet should be the last person to speak on the issue of competence and service to the country.

Villar’s “Senate record clearly shows that of all the senators, he has the worst attendance record,” Lacierda added.

Incompetent candidate

“What kind of competence does Villar boast about when he was only present in 15 Senate sessions? And of those sessions, he was late 12 times, while his colleagues burned the midnight oil over important matters of state?” he said in a statement.

The Aquino camp said that Villar’s “burning and all-consuming ambition” to become the successor to Mrs. Arroyo has led the NP
candidate to abandon his duties as senator.

Also on Wednesday, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada kicked off his first provincial campaign in Pangasinan, the home province of his best friend, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ.

FPJ was the opposition’s losing presidential candidate in the 2004 elections.

Estrada, who is seeking the presidency for the second time, was the guest of honor at the Urdaneta City University where he spoke to students of his platforms and plans to bring back the power to the masses and continue his pro-poor programs, which were stalled when he was removed from Malacañang.

He was joined by his vice presidential candidate, Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati City (Metro Manila).

Later in the day, the Estrada group held a motorcade around the province where they were joined by their senatorial aspirants led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Estrada’s son and Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Jose de Venecia 3rd and former Sen. Francisco Tatad.

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