Wednesday, April 28, 2010

86-year-old mom cries over attacks on Villar

by Fel V. Maragay

Original Story:

THE 86-year-old mother of presidential candidate Manuel Villar Jr. on Monday pleaded with his political enemies and critics to be fair and to stop attacking her son.

Curita Villar said she was deeply hurt by the attacks—especially allegations that their family did not have humble beginnings as portrayed by Villar’s advertisements.

“It pains and it almost kills me,” Mrs. Villar said in Tagalog during an emotional press conference at her home in Las Piñas City.

“They’re ganging up on my son.”

Mrs. Villar said her son was not exaggerating when he talked about helping her sell fish and shrimp in the market in his youth, and challenged reporters to visit their old stall at the Divisoria market.

The wheelchair-bound mother broke into tears as she talked about the difficulties she and her son, who was then 9, had gone through.

She said Villar’s brothers and sisters were also deeply hurt by the daily attacks on him on television and in the newspapers.

Villar’s sisters, Divina Gracia and Gloria Benedicto, came to his defense in the same conference, and lashed out at the media for being biased against him.

“Before you throw mud at us, why don’t you first look at the mud on your faces? ’’ Benedicto said.

“We are just simple people. As much as possible, we don’t want to come out, but we have to respond to these attacks.”

Benedicto became emotional when a reporter asked about the possibility that Villar would be criticized for using his mother in the campaign.

“Who was the first to use that gimmick?” she said.

“In all his [Senator Benigno Aquino III’s] posters, his mother and his father are there.”

Mrs. Villar appealed to her son’s political enemies and critics, and to the public, to be considerate and to stop peddling lies about her son.

“Please believe in him. His desire to help comes from the heart. Have pity on him,” she said.

At one point, Mrs. Villar sang Stardust, a song that she said she used to sing with her son, and then broke into tears again.

Original Story:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Left torn between Aquino and Villar

by Christine Herrera

Original Story:

Militant and moderate farmers’ groups have cast their lot with either the Liberal Party’s Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III or his closest rival Senator Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

But Aquino’s 300,000 supporters pale in comparison with the two million farmers belonging to the militant Anakpawis and Bayan Muna that are actively campaigning against Aquino and quietly supporting Villar.

The militant farmers have mounted Lakbayan a 30-vehicle caravan from Central Luzon to the Department of Agrarian Reform main office in Quezon City to denounce the alleged oppression in the 4,972-hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the Aquino and Cojuangco clan.

The anti-Aquino farmers started the caravan last April 19 and farmer-leaders yesterday held a dialogue with agrarian officials to press them to enforce the 2005 order of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council to distribute the lands in Hacienda Luisita to some 5,000 farmer-beneficiaries.

The farmer-leaders were told by the DAR officials that their hands are tied since the Aquinos and Cojuangcos stopped them from doing so after the influential family sought a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court in 2005.

The Luisita farmers dared Aquino to lift the TRO if he was indeed sincere” in his promise to distribute the lands.

While the militant farmers were picketing the DAR, the Aquino camp issued a statement saying that “despite an intense black propaganda campaign against them, farmers’ groups and agrarian reform advocates representing more than 300,000 farmers nationwide formally endorsed Aquino and Roxas as their choice to become the next President and Vice-President of the Philippines.

“The endorsement by the 47 groups followed the endorsement of the LP tandem by the farmer-beneficiaries of agrarian reform in the controversial Sumilao estate in Bukidnon province that marshaled public attention on their cause by marching from their land in Bukidnon to highlight the pestering issue of agrarian reform in the Philippines,” the LP statement said.

These farmers said they “trust” Aquino that he would keep his promise to distribute lands to the landless, including the Hacienda Luisita lands, and enforce the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in five years.

The 47 farmer-groups belong to the moderate Akbayan, whose representative in Congress, Risa Hontiveros is one of LP’s senatorial candidates.

Not to be outdone, the militant Anakpawis and Bayan Muna intensified their campaign against Aquino and pressed DAR to prod the Supreme Court to lift the Aquino-Cojuangco-sought TRO since their plea to have the restraining order lifted “fell on deaf ears.”

While the farmers have openly denounced Aquino as “not fit for President,” they were also quiet and not openly endorsing Villar although two of their leaders in Congress, Bayan Muna Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza are in the senatorial slate of NP.

Ocampo and Maza are said to have promised Villar “three million command votes” nationwide.

Apart from the two million farmers, the militant lawmakers claim to have a membership of one million more from multisectorial groups such as women, youth, urban poor and workers, among others.

Lito Bais, president of the United Luisita Workers’ Union, said the 300 farmers who joined the caravan would picket the SC today to press the high court to lift the TRO.

Bais said their trust rating on Aquino was way below zero because he has not lifted a finger to give justice to the seven farmers who were killed during a picket on Nov. 15, 2004.

Bais said Aquino was trying to mislead the farmers and the public in saying the Aquinos and Cojuangcos have already agreed to his plan to distribute the lands.

Original Story:

Villar ‘one big liar’ – Erap

Tuesday, 27 April 2010 00:00

Original Story:

FORMER President Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Monday called his rival for the presidency, Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party (NP), “one big liar” for “covering up” his alleged shady deals with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) involving the Villar-controlled Vista Land and Lifescape (VLL).

Estrada considered Villar’s “biggest lie” his denial of charges that he pressured PSE board members to lift the lock-up rule on stocks of VLL in 2007 when the NP standard-bearer was still Senate president.

“The incontrovertible fact is that Mr. Villar did [pressure the board members] and the stock exchange gave in to his request,” Estrada said during a press conference at the headquarters of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

He maintained that Villar showed up “unannounced” at a meeting of the PSE board when it was discussing the VLL stocks issue. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile echoed at the same press conference Estrada’s charge that Villar was a “liar.”

“He is a big liar but a poor one at that,” said Enrile, who is running for reelection under Estrada’s ticket.

Enrile claimed that Villar “pressured” the PSE members through a veiled threat. He said that during the meeting, Villar accused the directors, who are mostly stockbrokers, that they themselves were violating the legal limitation on their shareholders in the exchange. In June 2007, the PSE exempted 29.28 percent of VLL shares from the lock-up provision and allowed the firm to sell shares in a second public offering.

Estrada said that Villar lied when he did not disclose in his 2007 and 2008 Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) the P5-billion to P8-billion profit he and his wife allegedly made from the sale of their Vista Land stake. This apparent windfall, the former president said, was not shown in the SALN that Villar and his wife, Rep. Cynthia Villar, jointly filed.

Villar’s lawyer, Nalen Rosero-Galang, said that Villar’s accusers were “recycling lies to save face” after both PSE and Securities and Exchange Commission said they did not change or bend any rules to allow the public listing of shares of VLL.

Galang added that proceeds of the sale of the VLL shares are reflected in the books of the selling companies, “which explains why it is not reflected in the SALN of Sen. Villar.”

She said that the PSE board did not grant the requested release from escrow despite Villar’s appearance before the board.

“This shows that the PSE board was not influenced, much less pressured by Sen. Villar’s appearance before them. The PSE board allowed the release from escrow of the shares of one corporation because the board concluded that those shares were not subject to the lock-up requirement. Contrary to the allegations of Mr. Estrada, no waiver was granted by the PSE board,” Galang added.

She cited a formal statement from the PSE that the VLL transaction was above board.

“The PSE board earlier approved the public offering of Vista Land and in a subsequent meeting in 2007 clarified that the lock-up rule would not apply to the sale by existing shareholders owning less than 10 percent of the outstanding capital stock of the company at the time of the offering,” PSE Chairman Hans Sicat said in a statement.

Galang hinted that Estrada has an ax to grind against Villar who, as then Speaker of the House of Representatives, was mainly responsible for his impeachment and Senate trial that eventually resulted in his overthrow in a military and police-backed civilian uprising in 2001.

Enrile, however, was unimpressed by the PSE clearance of Villar. He said that the PSE board had executed “a very craftily and cleverly done cover-up” when it said that the Villar-owned Vista Land complied with existing rules and requirements for listing and public offering.

“Shame on you and your ilk who sit at the board of the PSE,” Enrile added.

He charged that some members of the board might have benefited from the allegedly irregular share sale so they are protecting Villar.

PSE intimidated

Enrile said those PSE board members were intimidated because they also had the problem of violating the bourse’s rule of having only a few stockbrokers on the board.

He challenged the board to declare as fake the minutes of a June 2007 PSE board meeting that he used as basis for his accusations.

“I dare the PSE board to say that the copies of the minutes of their meetings I am holding are fake and if so produce before the public [its] own version of the minutes so that they [public] can judge who is telling the truth and who [is] covering up,” Enrile said.

Villar earlier dismissed the accusations as black propaganda that he used his influence to manipulate the stock market and secure special treatment for his companies. He and his lawyer challenged Estrada and Enrile to sue him and let the courts decide if he committed any crime or not.

Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd, the candidate for president of the Liberal Party (LP), also did not escape the ire of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

The LP supposedly had also received reports of Villar’s alleged undue influence on PSE board members but did not reveal them because they wanted to verify the reports first.

Lawyer JV Bautista, PMP senatorial candidate, said at the same press conference that Aquino did not seem to have moral courage.

“He knew about this all along, but he reportedly lacked proof. He wants someone else to do the work for him. He needs to find moral courage to stand up and fight,” Bautista added.

With report from Marie Kristine De Guzman

Original Story:

Binay overtakes Legarda in VP race; Roxas still on top

Posted on 11:46 PM, April 25, 2010

Original Story:

Makati Mayor Jejomar “Jojo” C. Binay of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) has caught up with Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) bet Sen. Loren B. Legarda in the race for the vice-presidency but Liberal Party candidate Sen. Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas continues to enjoy a large, albeit narrower, lead.

The latest BusinessWorld-Social Weather Stations (SWS) Pre-Election Survey, conducted last April 16 to 19, saw Mr. Binay gaining four points to 25%, just edging out Ms. Legarda who lost a point to 24%.

Mr. Roxas’s score, meanwhile, fell to below 40% for the first time: he was down three points to 39% with three weeks to go before the May 10 elections.

Mr. Roxas’s score has been dropping since the start of the year, as has Ms. Legarda’s although not to the same extent. Mr. Binay, meanwhile, has been gaining from last December’s 10%.

The scores for the five remaining vice-presidential candidates barely changed: former Metro Manila Development Authority chief Bayani Fernando stayed at 3%; administration bet Eduardo “Edu” B. Manzano of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD lost a point to 2%; Bangon Pilipinas’ Perfecto “Kidlat” R. Yasay was steady at 1%; Ang Kapatiran’s Dominador “Jun” F. Chipeco, Jr. declined from 0.4% to 0.3%; and Kilusang Bagong Lipunan’s Jose “Jay” Y. Sonza rose to 0.4% from 0.3%.

Reacting to the results, Mr. Roxas said: “I would like to express my gratitude despite the three-point decline. The results will serve as my inspiration to strive harder in campaigning…”

Joey Salgado, Mr. Binay’s media officer, said the results showed momentum was on the PMP candidate’s side. “There were political events that occurred after the survey period that were not captured. We believe that we have the momentum,” he added.

Undaunted by their candidate’s declining performance, NPC spokesman and Valenzuela Rep. Rexlon T. Gatchalian said surveys were not necessarily accurate.

“Surveys do not reflect what’s happening on the ground. The support of the people to Ms. Legarda wherever she goes is overwhelming and that’s what we believe,” he said.

Ms. Legarda, he added, would eventually emerge strong in the polls. “Mr. Binay can have the second spot, while Mr. Roxas can have all the surveys. In the end, Ms. Legarda will emerge in the number one spot.”

The SWS survey polled 2,400 registered voters, divided into random samples of 300 for Metro Manila, 900 in the Balance of Luzon, and 600 each in the Visayas and Mindanao. The error margins used were ±2% for national percentages, ±6% for Metro Manila, ±3% for the rest of Luzon, and ±4% for the Visayas and Mindanao.

As in the last two surveys, the respondents were asked to fill out ballots which were then dropped into sealed containers, mimicking the election experience.

“Five percent of the respondents voted for others or were undecided,” the SWS said. -- AMPD

Original Story:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Facts about RP elections

April 23, 2010, 4:56pm

Original Story:

(Reuters) – More than 50 million Philippine voters will choose a president, vice president, nearly 300 lawmakers in the two-chamber Congress and more than 17,600 local government officials in the first nationwide automated polls on May 10. Politicians and investors are nervous about the automated process, which has never been tested anywhere in the country.

The election period started on Jan. 10, with the imposition of a gun ban, except for uniformed personnel, and a ban on new government appointments and infrastructure projects. Presidential candidates kicked off official campaigning on Feb. 9, and campaigning for seats in Congress and local positions began on March 26.

Here are key facts about the elections:

* A total of 50,723,734 registered voters as of April are eligible to vote using 76,340 automated voting machines in 80 provinces across the archipelago. The country has a population of about 92 million, with nearly a third classified as poor.

* Voters will elect a president, vice president, 12 senators, 230 representatives and 57 party-list positions in the lower house of Congress, 80 governors, 80 vice governors, 766 members of provincial legislative boards, 137 city mayors, 137 vice mayors, 1,524 city councillors, 1,497 municipal mayors, 1,497 vice mayors and 11,980 municipal legislative positions. There are about 50,000 candidates for the nearly 18,000 positions.

* Current terms for elected officials expire on June 30.

* Voters will use a special pen to shade blank ovals beside the names of the candidates instead of writing down candidates' names as before.

* An ordinary ballot, about 8 inches (20 cm) wide and 25 inches (64 cm) long, would include an average 600 names for local and national positions, printed back to back.

* Ballots with erasures and extra markings will not be accepted by the counting machines. The election agency is not printing extra ballots for voters who make mistakes in casting their votes. It is making provision for a manual count of 30 percent of the vote in case of technical or logistical problems.

* The counting machines will automatically generate a tally of votes, which will be transmitted to servers at municipal, city, provincial and national election offices.

* Printed copies of the returns will be shared with the two major political parties, an election watchdog headed by a church-based group and the broadcast industry association. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) also plans to make available online the raw results from precincts.

* The election returns from polling precincts, transmitted electronically, will be tallied by a board at the municipal, city, provincial and national levels. Results are expected within two hours at a local level and 72 hours at the national level, although results will not be officially proclaimed then.

* Comelec will officially proclaim winners of local and provincial contests and winners in the lower house of Congress over the next 5 to 10 days.

* Comelec in Manila will proclaim winners in the senatorial and party list election. A joint session of the outgoing Congress, expected to convene on May 30, will officially announce winners in the presidential and vice-presidential elections.

* Comelec estimates the entire election process will end on June 9. In past exercises, it took up to the fourth week of June before a president was proclaimed due to delays in tallying all the votes.

* Delays are expected in the proclamation of winners if large number of machines break down and electronic transmission fails.

* Elections are usually marred by vote-buying, cheating, threats and intimidation by political groups.

* In previous elections, authorities have received hundreds of complaints about discrepancies in the list of voters, such as missing names, double registrants and the illegal transfer of voters to other polling precincts. There were also reports that names of dead people remain on the voters' list. (Reporting by Manny Mogato)

Original Story:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Villar jail-bound----Erap

By Charlie V. Manalo

Original Story:

BUTUAN CITY — Instead of bagging the much coveted political position in the land, Nacionalista Party presidential bet might be bound for incarceration following revelations made by former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile the NP standard bearer, Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar, pressured corporate regulators into allowing him to sell locked-up stocks of his listed holding company, in violation of stock market rules, in 2007, earning billions of pesos in the process.

In an interview, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) standard bearer Estrada said he personally believes Villar could be jailed if he is found to have unduly used his powers, then as a Senate President, to influence and pressure the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) to bend the lock-up restriction so he could sell his stake in Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. after it got listed on the bourse.

“Yes, he could be jailed for that,” said Estrada

Aside from violating the laws governing stock offerings and listing, Estrada noted that Villar also violated another law by directly lobbying with the PSE board in behalf of his company.

According to Estrada, the law clearly prohibits government officials from directly managing their businesses.

“It is a ground for graft. He is personally involved in the majority of his business. He is personally involved in running the businesses.

“As he admitted, he’s running it as a private citizen. Is it possible to have a split personality in such things? He was certainly using his position to benefit him and his companies, where he is directly involved,” said Estrada.

“He should have divested along time ago.”

With all those revelations, Estrada said it would be dangerous for Villar to get elected as the country’s next president.

“Well, if he can do that while he was Speaker, Senate President, how much more if he is already the president,” said Estrada “He is really dangerous.”

When asked if he has plans of filing graft case or disqualification against Villar, Estrada said he believes it could be a little too late for filing a petition for disqualification.

But with regard to the graft case, Estrada said he is leaving that matter to Enrile who holds the documentary evidence against the NP bet.

Estrada’s campaign manager, Ambassador Ernesto Maceda, in a morning TV show said that the PMP, Estrada’s party, will definitely file graft charges against Villar after the elections.

Villar, however, claimed that which he did by way of calling the officials of the SEC and PSE and even sitting in their board meetings to get his locked-in shares exempted, was “aboveboard.”

Villar yesterday again denied the charge of Estrada and Enrile that he had pressured the PSE board to bend its rules in favor of his company, Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. (VLL).

“No law was broken in the case of Vistaland. There were no new rules that the PSE came up with for Vistaland. There was no irregularity,”Villar said in a press conference held at the NP headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

Estrada and Enrile on Thursday said Villar pressured the PSE in 2007 to immediately sell shares of VLL after its initial public offering (IPO) despite a prerequisite lock-up period.

Enrile also mentioned the fact that this sale of billions of his shares of stock, where he was said to have gained some P26 million, with some P6 billion earmarked for his presidential campaign, was not included in Villar’s statement of assets and liabilities networth (SALn).

In earlier interviews, especially in his questioning Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Noynoy Aquino’s funding, said to be coming from President Arroyo’s cronies, Villar has been claiming that he has been spending his personal funds, and that the funds came from the Villar company which is largely owned by Villar and his wife, through the IPO.

He no longer says this, after a complaint against him filed by a lawyer identified with Sen. Jamby Madrigal, who pointed out that a law may have been breached by Villar in using funds from company money through the IPO.

Lately his chief legal counsel, who now acts as his attack dog against Estrada, denied that Villar used his company’s funds for his campaign.

While Villar lets loose his attack dog, lawyer Galang, he said that despite the “false claims” raised by the former president, he has nothing but respect for Estrada whom he said was misled or fed with wrong information.

He denied that there were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who invested in VLL, as claimed by Estrada and that these allegations are all about politics,” Villar said, using his standard line in a bid to evade getting into the root.

He clarified that the PSE is a private entity and as such, what transpired between him and the PSE board is purely a private matter.

“In the end, it was rejected. So where was the pressure there? Where was the coercion?” Villar said.

He also presented an official statement from the PSE saying that VLL had complied with the listing and public offering requirements of the exchange based on its records in 2007.

Villar also denied Estrada and Enrile’s allegation that he also called up officials of Securities and Exchange Commission for the same issue, saying the regulatory body has nothing to do with what VLL was asking from the PSE.

Later, he admitted meeting and making phone calls with SEC chairman Fe Barin and PSE president Francis Lim but said all these were just “normal.”

In Butuan City, the former president yesterday vowed he would not fail the Filipino people should he win a second mandate to serve as president in the May 2010 national elections.

“I have been humbled and changed by all my personal experiences, and I am making a solemn vow to the whole Filipino nation that I shall not fail them from the beginning to the end of a second Erap presidency,” Estrada declared.

Estrada has previously acknowledged that he may have reposed his trust in individuals who later proved themselves unworthy, adding that this has added to the “life lessons” he has learned over the past years which include nearly seven years in detention.

“I know better now, and I promise our countrymen that I will not fail them should I again be elected president in May 2010,” the PMP standard bearer promised.

Estrada has resumed his campaign sorties through several provinces and cities in the south after a brief break in Manila to spend his birthday with family and close friends.

Estrada, his running mate Makati mayor Jojo Binay, and members of the PMP senatorial slate including Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, lawyer JV Bautista, and former representative Apolinario “Jun” Lozada, were in Butuan City for a campaign sortie through the south.

Their visit was hosted by Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza, himself a PMP senatorial candidate. Another massive, cheering throng which has become a hallmark of Estrada’s sorties was on hand to welcome them.

Meanwhile, the NP camp was quick to defend Villar, saying he is being ganged up by his rivals in next month’s election because of “something in the ground that is not being reflected by the surveys.”

“That something,” said NP spokesman and senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla, “is that Senator Villar, in reality, is the man to beat in the battle for the presidency.”

Remulla said Villar has become the favorite target of mudslinging by the other presidential candidates because of the groundswell of support pouring his way from all sectors of Philippine society.

“Senator Villar is being pulled down because he is way up there in our people’s estimation as the most competent candidate who can end, once and for all, abject poverty in our country,” he stressed.

“I have no doubt that our people can see through the manufactured and rehashed allegations against Senator Villar, who had chosen not to dignify their malicious attacks. And rightly so since we, in the Nacionalista Party, would never stoop to such a low level.”

Just last week, Villar had cemented overwhelming support from at least 80 percent of all local government officials nationwide, said Remulla.

As candidates themselves, the local officials have been campaigning vigorously for Villar “where it matters most -- the grassroots, the barangays, the impoverished urban and rural centers.”

Mayors and barangay officials, including those in Cebu, had been so moved by Villar’s thrust to make government work for the people that they had inundated Villar’s headquarters with manifestos of support, the NP claim went.

Remulla said that among the presidential candidates, it is only Villar who has an honest-to-goodness government platform designed to improve the economy, create jobs and empower the people as entrepreneurs.

“On every campaign sortie, people come to us to say that they are overwhelmingly voting for Senator Villar as President. Incidentally, they wonder aloud how come the surveys do not reflect their real sentiments,” he said.

“They ask how come neither they nor anyone they knew had been surveyed. To them, it seems the survey figures are being plucked out from thin air. It’s a mystery to them.”

Remulla said Villar would rather talk about what he intends to do as President than to “waste his time answering every garbage accusation thrown his way.”

Original Story:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Escudero all out for ‘Noy-Bi’ (Roxas denies blocking Chiz ad on Binay)

By Alcuin Papa,
Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.,
Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:03:00 04/22/2010

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Benigno Aquino III, Gender Issues

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—Ang Ladlad, which aspires to be the first gay group in Asia to hold a legislative office, on Wednesday endorsed Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, but not his running mate, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

Ladlad is supporting Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, vice presidential candidate of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

The “Noy-Bi” combination is also being pushed by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who earlier backed out of the presidential race.

Escudero was instrumental in securing Ang Ladlad’s support for Aquino and Binay, according to the group’s chair Danton Remoto.

Reached for comment in Cagayan de Oro City, Aquino said this was not the time to get jealous especially with interest groups endorsing candidates from different parties, such as the Noy-Bi pairing.

“We have to be more open-minded. This is not the time to harbor ill feelings. We can’t afford to be ill-tempered. There is no point in that. We have to be calm especially in the last few days when the nightmare scenarios could happen. We cannot be hotheaded,” Aquino said at a press conference.

He said he had assured supporters that Roxas remained his vice presidential candidate. “If I can’t convince (a supporter to back up Roxas), I told Mar he should look for others. In the same token, if there is someone who only likes Mar, I have to find others for me,” Aquino said.

The LP standard-bearer said he had taken up the matter with Roxas. “We are transparent on this,” he added.

‘That’s democracy’

Aquino said he asked Roxas if there was an issue on this about commitment. “There may be areas where Mar has a long-standing relationship (with somebody else) but I will never object to the support he is getting,” he said.

Roxas said he was cool to Ang Ladlad’s decision not to go solid LP. “That is the point of democracy.”

As to the similar endorsements made by Escudero, Roxas said: “I am friends with Senator Chiz. We have different political views. I am glad that he is supporting my candidate for president, and for me that is enough.”

“For me, what is most important is that all powers for Senator Noynoy will join forces,” Roxas added.

Aquino said Escudero was his kumpare and one of his closest friends. He said they have been together through many issues when they were both members of the House of the Representatives, including the impeachment case against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“It’s a huge thing to get an endorsement from a friend,” Aquino added. “But I’ve always asked the members of my coalition to focus on one goal and that is bringing about change after nine years of the Arroyo government.”

At a press conference in Quezon City, Remoto said Ang Ladlad considered Aquino the “Mr. Clean of Philippine politics.”

Remoto added that the group also admired Binay for his stand as a human rights lawyer during the Marcos dictatorship and for his pro-poor programs in Makati.

Remoto ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Congress under Binay’s PDP-Laban party and has been a card-carrying member of the party.

Binay was a loyal supporter of Noynoy’s mother, the late former President Cory Aquino. Both men had adopted her trademark campaign color, yellow, in casting their own political image.

Asked why the group did not pick Aquino’s running mate, Remoto said Roxas’ campaign was “too slow” in responding to Ang Ladlad’s request for support.

Remoto once worked for Roxas as a communications consultant. “Mar is a kind and decent man and we are still friends. But we had to make up for lost time,” he said.

Roxas blocking ad?

Binay does not mind if the TV ad showing Escudero endorsing his candidacy for vice president remains off the air. Roxas is reportedly blocking Escudero’s ad endorsing Binay.

As far as Binay is concerned, half the battle against Roxas, who has been leading poll surveys in the vice presidential race, is already won.

“They’re just making me even more popular,” the Makati mayor running with former President Joseph Estrada’s PMP told the Inquirer on the phone Wednesday.

“Are we upset? We’re not upset. We’re secretly happy that it has caused this furor,” Binay’s spokesperson Lito Anzures added.

Binay’s camp had apparently received reports that Roxas was keeping a TV station from airing the Escudero endorsement of the mayor.

In the 30-second ad, Escudero is shown “enumerating the good points of Jojo Binay,” such as his humble beginnings and his track record as a longtime local government official, according to Anzures.

Binay said he had not seen the ad, but was told about it by Escudero last week.

Roxas denies the accusation.

“Senator Escudero has every right to endorse any candidate he wants. He is not a member of LP and thus not bound by party discipline,” Roxas said in a text message.

Escudero has also been quietly working as a key member of Binay’s campaign team, which does not necessarily sit well with some supporters of Estrada.

Escudero is backing Aquino despite his being the spokesperson of the late Fernando Poe Jr. in the 2004 presidential election. Poe was a close friend of Estrada.

Asked about this arrangement in a recent interview, Estrada said: “That’s politics.”

Anzures said the attention being generated by the Escudero ad would only work to the advantage of Binay, who was locked in third place in surveys.

Major threat

“Even assuming the worst that the endorsement would never come out, at least, it has been talked about already, thanks to media people,” Anzures said. “It has done its damage already. But, of course, it would still be better if it would be aired.”

Assuming that Roxas and the LP were indeed blocking the ad, he said it would show that Binay was considered a major threat.

“It’s not surprising for them to try to stop it,” Binay’s spokesperson said. “They feel now who their real opponent is. We’re gaining ground.”

Original Story:

Villar steered PSE – Erap (Deals complied with listing rules, NP bet’s camp says)

April 22, 2010, 6:22pm

Original Story:

Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada definitely saved the best for the last crunch of the campaign period when he exposed Thursday the alleged illegal activities of Nacionalista Party (NP)s standard-bearer Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar to propel his presidential bid in May 10 elections.

With only two weeks left remaining to campaign, Estrada dared Villar to explain allegations that he “manipulated the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and duped investors” to buy shares of stocks from his company, Vista Land & Lifescapes (VLL), Inc.

But lawyer Nalen Rosero-Galang, chief legal officer for Villar, said the public offering of the shares of stock of Vista Land & Lifescapes was done in compliance with the requirements of the Securities Regulation Code and the rules of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

“I've chosen to break my silence on issues that have bearing not just on this campaign but on the future of our beloved country, especially the poor. I've always believed in pursuing an honorable campaign based on a high level issues and not on mudslinging,” Estrada said in a press conference Thursday.

“That was my firm conviction until I was presented with credible documents involving my rival and his pretensions of being poor, of being pro-poor, and being an honest businessman, I've given Sen. Villar the benefit of the doubt even if he has not given our people convincing explanations on many charges levelled against him,” he added.

“For the enlightenment of Mr. Estrada, the bulk of Vista Land shares, or 85 percent thereof, were taken up by foreign investors. So how can they claim that Filipino investors were duped by Sen. Villar?” Rosero-Galang said.

She added that the said public offering was duly passed upon and cleared by both the SEC and the PSE.

In a press conference, Estrada expressed beliefs that it is his duty as a presidential candidate to expose pieces of evidence, which detailed how Villar used his influence as Senate President “to make billions of pesos from businessmen, who bought shares from VLL.”

He echoed the detailed allegations of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who also disclosed how Villar “bended PSE rules” and “conniving with board members Francis Ed Lim, Anabelle Chua, Roberto Atendido, and Cornelio Peralta to exempt 29.28 percent from the locked-up shares of VLL. Efforts to get the side of the PSE officials proved futile.

The “lock-up” requirement is a standard proscription in all listings and public offerings of shares of stock of private business corporations, prohibiting major shareholders like Villar from selling their own shares with a certain period, Enrile explained.

“In simple terms, those who want to generate funding for their companies by selling their shares to the public are prohibited from selling or dumping their own shares within a certain period, because such will adversely affect the price or value of the listed shares,” Enrile said.

“(This will) unjustly enrich the majority shareholders at the expense of and to the detriment of the public,” he added.

Citing letters in correspondence with PSE Chairman Hans Sicat last March, Enrile said he was able to confirm that Villar met with PSE board members in Tektite Towers in Pasig City to persuade them to bend PSE rules in order to raise a multi-billion pesos, a portion of which had been used up for Villar's campaign for 2010 presidential elections.

“Did Sen. Manny Villar, as has been the talk in business circles, really threaten the PSE with a Senate investigation of the shenanigans of its own members? Was such a threat, no matter how veiled, hidden in the unrecorded caucus?” he asked.

The Senate President, who was almost ousted by Villar in a coup in the Senate last year, said that the presidential bet has generated more or less R26 billion earnings from his private companies from which P5 billion were sold from his “personal shares of stocks.”

Enrile said that after 29.28 percent of locked-up stocks were sold to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at listing price of P6.50 per share from the initial public offering of P2.50 per share, its stock price plummeted to only P0.60 per shares.

Enrile also expressed doubts that these multi-billion earnings were not included in Villar's statement of assets and liabilities net worth of P1.041 billion in 2007 and P1.046 billion in 2008.

“If he can do this if he is still not the president, how much more if he is already the president of this country?” he asked.

Villar camp lashes back at Estrada, Enrile

Reacting to the exposé, the Villar’s camp lashed back at Estrada and Enrile for peddling lies and deceiving the public regarding the propriety of the stock offering of his real estate company.

Villar dismissed the claim made by Estrada and Enrile as “pure fiction.”

“Senator Villar is once again being tried publicly via the media by his political opponents. We challenge them to present documents if indeed they have any such credible documents to back their allegations,” said Rosero-Galang.

“We challenge them to file appropriate charges in courts and agencies against the senator and his companies if indeed violations of laws were committed. Until that time, the public should know that this is clearly nothing but political mudslinging.”

Rosero-Galang said the public offering of the shares of stock of Vista Land & Lifescapes was done in compliance with the requirements of the Securities Regulation Code and the rules of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Both Estrada and Enrile said Villar pressured the PSE board to approve the public offering of the stocks of the company, proceeds of which they claim he used to fund his campaign to the detriment of the company’s Filipino stockholders.

Rosero-Galang said Estrada and Enrile were lying through their teeth.

“For the enlightenment of Mr. Estrada and his Honorable Enrile, the bulk of Vista Land shares, or 85 percent thereof, were taken up by foreign investors. So, how can they claim that Filipino investors were duped by Sen. Villar?” she said.

She added that the said public offering was duly passed upon and cleared by both the SEC and the PSE.

“There was full disclosure of all material information as required by law. There was an Offering Circular, which not only complied with Philippine legal requirements but also conformed to the international standards and practices,” Rosero-Galang explained.

She added that UBS Investment Bank acted as global coordinator and bookrunner of the international offering of the Vista Land shares, while BDO Capital & Investment Corporation acted as Issue Manager and Domestic Lead Underwriter.

She further disclosed that two reputable Philippine law firms – Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & Delos Angeles and Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos – and two reputable international law firms – Allen & Overy and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom – passed upon the legality of the share offer.

Rosero-Galang also said the pricing of the shares for purposes of the public offer was arrived at through an international bookbuilding exercise that was coordinated by UBS.

“While it is true that Sen. Villar appeared before the PSE Board, there is nothing irregular with the said appearance. PSE listing applicants do that, when deemed necessary to secure the approval of their listing application.

“The PSE is a private corporation, not a government agency. Senator Villar appeared in his private capacity, as a controlling shareholder of an applicant, not as a government official. The lock-up requirement which Vista Land requested the PSE to waive is a requirement under the rules of the PSE, not under any law or regulation. It is well within the power of the PSE to waive any of its rules on just and meritorious grounds. Senator Villar’s appearance was to explain the circumstances which make the request for waiver just and meritorious.

“Most importantly, in the end, the PSE Board did NOT grant the requested waiver despite the appearance of Senator Villar. This shows that the PSE Board was not influenced, much less pressured, by Senator Villar’s appearance before them. The PSE Board allowed the release from escrow of the shares of one corporation because the Board concluded that those shares were not subject to the lock-up requirement. To reiterate, contrary to the allegations of Mr. Estrada, no waiver was granted by the PSE Board,” Rosero-Galang said.

Meanwhile, stock market sources said Vista Land & Lifescapes’ follow-on offering (FOO) overtook two public offerings that were lined up ahead of it but, while there were some grumblings, no one dared raise their voices against the firm owned by the family of Villar.

The offerings that had to give way to the Vista Land FOO were the initial public offerings of GMA Network and the Philippine National Bank (PNB). Vista Land conducted its FOO on July 26, GMA’s IPO was on July 31, and PNB’s FOO on August 2.

PSE President Lim during that time did not return requests for an interview while the PSE has yet to issue a statement as of press time.

On the other hand, PSE Director Vivian Yuchengco said there was “no such thing” as the PSE board being strong-armed into letting Vista Land FOO overtake others.

Sources said Vista Land had wanted to rush its FOO as the market was already at its peak during the stock market’s rally in 2007 and the market was already showing signs of falling from its high and appetite for new share offerings were waning.

Vista not covered by 180-day lock-in period

Vista Land had earlier listed its shares at the PSE by way of introduction of listing without first undertaking an initial public offering on June 25, 2007. Firms that list by way of introduction are mandated to do a public offer of shares 12 months after listing.

Vista Land immediately started the process for its follow-on offering after its listing by way of introduction and soon listed shares from its FOO on July 26, 2007 or just one month after the listing by way of introduction.

Under PSE rules, major shareholders are required to lock in, or not allowed to sell, their shares within 180 days from the listing of shares of the company. However, Vista Land shareholders were able to sell shares in the secondary offering of the FOO since, unlike listings after public offerings, there is no lock-in period required for listing by way of introduction.

Based on PSE rules, listing by way of introduction do not require a 180-day lock-in period on shares. What is covered by the 180-day lock-in period is the case of FOO.

In the case of Vista Land, it complied and in fact extended the lock-in period voluntary through announcement disclosure that they will no longer sell anymore shares.

In its FOO, PSE sources said Vista Land sold a total of P24.75 billion worth of shares consisting of 2.12 billion new shares worth P14.5 billion while its major shareholders, firms controlled by the Villar family, sold 1.49 billion shares to raise P10.2 billion in cash.

Aboitiz Power Corporation raised a total of P11.6 billion from its IPO, GMA and its major shareholders raised P8.9 billion, while PNB raised P5.25 billion from its follow on offering. (With a report from James Loyola)

Original Story:

Erap questions Villar's sincerity in helping OFWs

By Dennis Carcamo
Updated April 22, 2010 01:28 PM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines – Former President Joseph Estrada today claimed that Nacionalista Party presidential bet Sen. Manny Villar has been using the OFW market to make money.

In a press conference at the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino’s (PMP) headquarters in Mandaluyong City, Estrada alleged that Villar's companies involved in housing projects, particularly Vista Land, are being used as "marketing schemes.”

He also questioned Villar's sincerity in helping the OFWs.

Portion of billions of pesos from the earnings of the housing projects are now being used in the seemingly inexhaustible campaign kitty of the Villar camp, he added.

For his part, PMP re-electionist senator Juan Ponce Enrile said Villar, who was then a senate president, used his position to pressure Philippine Stocks Exchange (PSE) officials to jack up the value of his companies' shares of stocks.

Villar has reportedly violated some PSE policies in the public offerings and listings of his companies' shares, Enrile said.

Original Story:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Estrada gets surprise greetings from Teodoro, Aquino

By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:36:00 04/20/2010

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Joseph Estrada

Original Story:

TAYTAY, RIZAL—On his 73rd birthday Monday, former President Joseph Estrada got surprise birthday greetings from Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro and Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, but not a word from Sen. Manuel Villar, the man Estrada considers his bitter rival.

On the eve of his birthday, he was gifted with a brand new Toyota Sequoia SUV (Platinum model retails between $56,180 and $59,405 in the US) by his wife, former Sen. Luisa “Loi” Ejercito and their children. In turn, he promised to lessen his smoking even as he claimed that his lungs remained “clear.”

Having heard of Estrada’s lavish praises on him since last week, administration candidate Teodoro phoned the former president Monday morning for a customary “Happy Birthday” greeting, and more.

Estrada considers Teodoro the most qualified, besides himself, among the present crop of presidential wannabes.

“Good luck to us,” Teodoro told the ousted president, apparently referring to their respective chances of winning in the May 10 elections.

Quite ironically, Estrada and Teodoro have struck an alliance of sorts, one that was apparently forged in the face of defections plaguing the latter’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.

Never mind if Estrada describes himself as the only “true opposition” while Teodoro is—at least on paper—the official candidate of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the administration party.

Estrada is in a solid third place in all major surveys, followed by Teodoro whose 6 to 8 percent ratings have kept him at fourth.

Happy birthday via text

Estrada said he also got a birthday greeting by text message from Aquino of the Liberal Party, but none from Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

The ex-president and his camp have been criticizing the billionaire Villar for allegedly copying his campaign strategies—from political color to the pro-poor theme.

“They only lack the moustache and the wristband,” reelectionist Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, his son, told the crowd in one campaign rally in Bohol province.

Boodle fight

As had been his ritual, Estrada celebrated his birthday in Barangay San Lorenzo Ruiz here, the home of hundreds of former squatters he had relocated from San Juan years ago.

Estrada arrived at the community shortly before 12 noon for a “boodle fight” with select residents, mostly children and the elderly. He was welcomed by some 200 well-wishers, some of whom planted kisses on his cheeks.

As if on cue, he began feeding 90-year-old Elena Felix with lechon (roasted pig) and pork adobo (stew) using his bare hands. He did the same with 6-year-old Genevieve Pedroso in front of TV cameras and photographers.

To see the president

Pedroso’s mother said she and her daughter had come all the way from Merville subdivision in Parañaque City to see the ex-president on his birthday.

“I wish we would have a genuine president after the elections,” he told reporters. “I hope the elections will be peaceful and clean, unlike in 2004, which was chaotic.”

About 30 minutes later, Estrada hopped into his black Ford Navigator and proceeded to the Payatas district in Quezon City.

Been there, done the test

In a related development, Estrada has jumped the gun on the two survey front-runners over the issue of taking psychiatric examinations by presidential contenders to help ascertain their fitness for the job.

In a radio interview, he said he had gone through such a test before the start of the campaign period last February, or way before Senators Villar and Aquino began taunting each other.

“There’s no need [for a psychiatric test] because I’ve had mine already,” he said in Filipino.

“Besides, my wife is a psychiatrist so if ever I had a mental problem, she should have left me long ago,” he said in jest, referring to Dr. Loi Ejercito, who is also a former senator.

The issue of a presidential candidate’s mental fitness surfaced after the release of a fake psychiatric test supposedly done on Aquino at the Ateneo de Manila University. Villar’s camp denied that it was the source of the bogus report.

Original Story:

Erap says he's for Gibo

By Charlie Lagasca
The Philippine Star
Updated April 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines – Former President Joseph Estrada disclosed here over the weekend that if he was not running for president he would vote for administration presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr.

Estrada, presidential bet of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, cited Teodoro’s brilliance and ability to lead the nation.

“My only edge (over Teodoro) is my popularity and vast experience (in public service) while Gibo has the makings of a great leader,” he said.

He said that he is open to talk with Teodoro for a possible alliance of their camps.

“We are open to talks with Secretary Teodoro if he wants to. Our doors are open to whoever is willing to work with us,” he said.

Estrada, however, stressed that as of now there are no direct or indirect talks between his camp and Teodoro’s group.

Presidential surveys show Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Benigno Aquino III still in the lead, followed by Nacionalista Party (NP) bet Manuel Villar, Estrada in third place and Teodoro a distant fourth.

Estrada said that he would benefit from the ongoing word war and mudslinging between Aquino and Villar.

He said that for more than 40 years as a politician, he never engaged in below-the-belt statements against his opponents.

“I don’t have things like that. My campaign is high level. I don’t engage in personal attacks,” Estrada said.

Estrada, who turned 73 yesterday, said the mudslinging between Aquino and Villar would discourage people from voting for them.

As part of his annual birthday celebration, Estrada went to Payatas where he had lunch with poor residents.

“They are mudslinging. The people will be turned off. I will benefit from that one way or the other. The true issue here is that the true opposition is the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP),” Estrada said.

Estrada said the members of the NP and LP are among those who joined EDSA Dos that ousted him and installed President Arroyo as president in 2001.

“The NP and LP joined together in EDSA Dos. The standard-bearer of NP (Villar) was the one who banged the gavel in Congress for the transmission of the impeachment complaint against me although it had not passed through the House committee on justice yet. He railroaded the transmission of the impeachment case against me to the Senate,” Estrada said.

Estrada said former Senate president Franklin Drilon, then president of LP, was among those who raised the hand of Arroyo as the new president of the Philippines during EDSA Dos.

He said that big businessmen are no longer helping him in his campaign because they learned their lesson, that they cannot get any help from an Estrada administration specially if what’s at stake are the interests of the government and the majority of Filipinos. With Jose Rodel Clapano

Original Story:

16 Luzon lawmakers defect to Villar camp

By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star
Updated April 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Sixteen lawmakers from Northern Luzon are defecting to the Nacionalista Party (NP), Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla told The STAR yesterday.

Padilla said his colleagues in the Northern Luzon Alliance (NLA) made the decision during a meeting in Baguio over the weekend.

“There were 32 of us members of the Northern Luzon Alliance who attended the meeting. Fifteen of them who do not belong to the Nacionalista Party made a commitment to support Senator Villar,” he said.

He said Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque Ablan, who was not able to go to Baguio, sent word that he too would support NP standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar.

Villar was not present during the meeting organized by Padilla and Deputy Speaker Eric Singson.

If Villar wins, Padilla might be NP’s candidate for speaker.

The 16 who have pledged support for Villar include Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao and Pangasinan Rep. Conrado Estrella III from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). Both earlier promised support for Lakas-Kampi presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro.

Some NPC lawmakers earlier decided to coalesce with the NP. However, Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco and his father billionaire businessman and NPC founder Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. do not recognize the coalition.

The Cojuangcos maintained they are not supporting a presidential candidate but are supporting Sen. Loren Legarda, NP’s vice presidential guest candidate, originally from the NPC.

Padilla said the other NLA members who did not commit during the meeting in Baguio would most likely also support Villar.

“They just asked for time to consult their leaders,” he said.

He expects Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson to defect to NP because his father, former Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, has already shifted support to Villar.

In Isabela, other than Aggabao, Padilla said former Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Rodolfo Albano Sr. would most likely transfer to the NP.

Albano is seeking a House seat in the first district of Isabela. His son, incumbent first district Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, said he is remaining with the administration party Lakas-Kampi.

“I’m not the type who will abandon a friend especially when he is down. I will support Gibo all the way,” he said.

Padilla said the Ortega clan of La Union is also expected to defect to the NP.

Tropang Villar

Villar and Legarda last Sunday held their fifth campaign sortie in Davao City where they had the “Rockatropa Concert of Tropang Villar.”

The political rally drew a crowd of 80,000.

Rosalinda Duterte, 56, said she traveled two hours from Tagum City with her two grown up daughters and two neighbors to shake Villar’s hand.

“He is my idol. His life story is very inspiring. I believe he can pull us out of poverty because he did it with his life,” she said in Filipino.

Her neighbor, Salvacion Dimarugso, 59, said she admires Villar for his achievements in life. She said she supports him despite the C-5 road extension controversy hounding him.

Some of the celebrities who entertained the crowd were boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, rapper Andrew E., singer April Boy Regino, host-actors Randy Santiago and John Estrada, singers Jesssa Tarragona, Mae Rivera, Layman, Aegis, actress Ara Mina, and band 6cyclemind.

Villar and Legarda yesterday criticized their strongest rival, the Liberal Party (LP), for supposedly conditioning the mind of the public that there would have been vote rigging in the upcoming elections if they do not win.

LP vice presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II earlier said they would have been cheated if they do not win the election.

“I may be cheated, too. But I also do not think that I will lose,” Villar said.

NP senatorial candidate Ramon Mitra, a former Marine officer, said the upcoming elections would be the “toughest test” for the military to protect the credibility of the elections by maintaining peace and order, especially now that murder charges against two members of the Ampatuan clan have been dropped. – With Christina Mendez

Original Story:

Fernando won't abandon Gordon

By Mike Frialde
The Philippine Star
Updated April 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Bagumbayan vice presidential bet Bayani Fernando welcomed yesterday the reported support of some current and former members of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD coalition, but he vowed not to abandon his tandem with presidential candidate Sen. Richard Gordon.

“I will not abandon Sen. Gordon and Bagumbayan. It is my party now,” said Fernando, former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman.

Fernando, who was with Lakas for 17 years until he transferred to Bagumbayan last year, was reacting to a report that a bloc composed of members of the “Old Lakas” are forging a possible tandem of Lakas presidential bet Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro and Fernando.

Fernando said he would welcome an endorsement from Teodoro.

“I am grateful and happy that Gibo’s supporters would vote for me. It is because of the weak showing of Edu Manzano and our (Lakas members) previous association,” he said.

Fernando told editors and reporters of The STAR that he has met several former and current ranking members of the Lakas-Kampi coalition who have expressed their support for him.

“All along the way, I have been meeting Lakas leaders. Most of those I have talked to are supporting me,” he said.

Fernando said he had met Parañaque City Mayor Florencio Bernabe and Sorsogon Gov. Sally Lee.

“I am their natural ally. I have been with them for 17 years,” he said.

Teodoro said a tandem with Fernando would never happen because he will not abandon his running mate Manzano.

“Never,” said Teodoro during his campaign yesterday in Antipolo City.

Fernando said the support given by current and former members of Lakas for his bid would definitely give him the edge in the polls.

“It is definitely an advantage. It is a big slice. It is a big number. That should make a difference. Many are supporting me because they are my friends,” he said.

Fernando said that even former President Fidel Ramos is showing support for him with his “body language.”

Last year, Fernando was confident that he would be selected as Lakas standard-bearer. He left the party after Lakas endorsed Teodoro.

He then approached Gordon and asked him to be his running mate as vice president. After a series of discussions, Fernando agreed to be Gordon’s vice presidential bet.

Fernando said that despite his decision to leave Lakas, his relations with President Arroyo have not soured.

“The relation never did turn sour. I just left the party and joined Bagumbayan. I am determined to run. I feel I have something to offer this country,” he said.

Original Story:

RP's biggest group of cooperatives endorses Gordon

By Mike Frialde
The Philippine Star
Updated April 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s biggest group of cooperatives has thrown its support behind the presidential bid of Bagumbayan bet Sen. Richard Gordon.

In a statement, the 10-million strong Cooperative Union of the Philippines, through its secretary-general Felix Borja, said it has also entered into a covenant with Gordon “to complement each other’s efforts to bring about a better quality of life to the masses of people with limited means.”

Borja and Gordon signed the covenant last Sunday during the 19th General Assembly of the Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Pinamungahan, Cebu attended by more than 3,000 cooperative members and leaders.

Lamac, a multi-awarded cooperative, is the biggest cooperative in the Visayas with more than 46,000 members in Cebu province alone.

“Sen. Gordon is the most qualified presidential candidate because of his record of leadership, integrity and competence. We believe he is the only one who can help the cooperative sector because he is the only candidate who has the track record to make things happen,” Borja said.

“Sen. Gordon is the intelligent and competent alternative to the ‘politics of personalities’ that has marred the country’s presidential elections in the 24 years after martial law. And his intelligence and competence is accompanied by his big heart for the poor,” he added.

Gordon also graced the launching of CUP’s sunflower development project in the Visayas, considered a long-term and sustainable agricultural stimulus program that would convert about 600,000 hectares of unutilized and marginalized agricultural lands nationwide into productive use.

Borja said CUP’s endorsement of Gordon does not violate the sector’s non-partisan character but “actually reinforces our political obligation to choose the leaders whom we feel will help us attain the development goals of the sector.”

“Cooperatives in other countries are able to elect their leaders into office. It is high time for cooperative members to let their voices be heard in the country’s electoral exercises,” Borja said.

Original Story:

Noynoy, Mar ratings surge in latest poll

By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star
Updated April 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - The trust ratings of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and running mate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II have surged in the homestretch of the campaign for the May 10 polls, according to a recent survey by independent pollster Pulse Asia Inc.

Results of the survey conducted from March 21 to 28 among 3,000 respondents showed Aquino leading the pack of presidential candidates in terms of trust rating by voters, with 69 percent saying they have “big trust” in the LP presidential bet.

Aquino’s rating was up five points from 64 percent in the February survey.

Only nine percent said they have “small/no trust” in Aquino, a significant drop of five points from 14 percent last February.

Meanwhile, 74 percent said they had “big trust” in Roxas, or a four-point increase from 70 percent.

This makes Roxas still the most trusted public official and candidate in the upcoming elections, Pulse Asia said.

The Aquino-Roxas tandem has consistently led surveys on voter preference for the May 10 polls as early as September last year. In comparison, their rivals in the May 10 national elections had lower trust rating from Filipino voters.

Only 61 percent of voters have “big trust” in Nacionalista Party presidential bet Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., a clear indication that his camp failed to besmirch the positive campaign of Aquino, according to LP director general Chito Gascon.

Former President Joseph Estrada placed third with 48 percent, followed by former Defense secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. with 36 percent, Sen. Richard Gordon with 29 percent, evangelist Eddie Villanueva with 22 percent and Sen. Jamby Madrigal with 21 percent. Environmentalist Nicanor Perlas and Olongapo Councilor JC de los Reyes each got nine percent.

Among Roxas’ rivals in the vice-presidential race, Sen. Loren Legarda registered a trust rating of only 59 percent. Those who said they had “small/no trust” for Legarda was 12 percent.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay got 58 percent trust rating, while former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando had 24 percent; television host/actor Edu Manzano, 23 percent; broadcaster Jay Sonza, 13 percent; and former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Perfecto Yasay, 11 percent. Dominador Chipeco Jr. got nine percent.

Aquino said he is thankful for the people’s trust in him and that the latest survey shows that the public can distinguish between black propaganda being thrown at him from the real issues.

Original Story:

Andal Jr. backs Noynoy-Mar but LP bet says ‘No thanks’

04/20/2010 | 05:37 PM

Original Story:

(Update 2 - 7:22 p.m.) Andal Ampatuan Jr., a member of the powerful Ampatuan clan and the prime suspect in the murder of 57 people in Maguindanao, claimed that his family will support Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino and his running mate Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas for the May 10 polls, even as the LP presidential bet said, "No thanks."

Clad in a yellow shirt and baller at a press conference at Camp Bagong Diwa on Tuesday, detained Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Jr. said his father, former Maguindanao Governor Andal Sr., believes that their family can only attain real justice under an Aquino administration.

"Basta't ito po ang aming desisyon, susuportahan namin si Sen. Noynoy dahil siya ang nakikita namin na makakapagpabago sa gobyerno at makakakuha kami ng hustisya (we will support Sen. Noynoy because we believe he can reform the government and give us justice), he said."

Then he brought out a yellow paper from his pocket where the names of candidates that he said his family will support for the elections were written, and chanted "Noynoy-Mar" for several times while flashing an "L" sign, the symbol of the Aquino family.

In a statement faxed by their legal counsel Sigfrid Fortun, Andal Sr. however said the clan "won't support anyone." He said several candidates have sought their support in the upcoming polls but refused to name them. Andal Jr. for his part claimed that the Aquino camp sent an emissary to talk to their family.

“Madami ang nakikiusap sa amin at humihingi ng suporta para sa boto sa ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) at Maguindanao. Hindi ko na babanggitin pa kung sino sila ngunit sila ay mula sa lahat ng partido. Wala kaming ibibigay na suporta kanino man (Numerous candidates have requested us and asked for support for the vote in ARMM and Maguindanao. I won't mention who they are, but they come from all parties. We won't give support to anyone)," the Ampatuan patriarch said.

'What a joke'

But Aquino said the Ampatuans' endorsement are not welcome, adding that his camp never sought the clan's endorsement.

"No, thank you," Aquino said in a press conference in Cagayan de Oro City when asked what his message to the Ampatuans were.

"Siguro joke po yon. Di ko po nakakausap, hindi po namin hinahabol yung kanilang endorsement (That must be a joke. I did not talk to them, and we are not seeking their endorsement)," he said.

Aquino noted that Andal Jr. was not wearing a yellow baller ID band—yellow is Aquino's political color—when he was transferred from the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig. Andal Jr.'s baller was orange—the political color of Nacionalista Party bet Sen. Manuel Villar.

Likewise, LP campaign manager Butch Abad called the supposed endorsement "a sick joke."

"If this was a way for the Ampatuans to instantly repay the Arroyo regime for the legally questionable and suspect and undue haste by which two of their kin had been set free, it was a crude and reprehensible stunt," Abad said in a text message to reporters.

DOJ Secretary Alberto Agra recently ordered the dropping of murder charges against ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan and Maguindanao vice governor Akmad Ampatuan.

Abad suggested that it was impossible for Andal Jr. to be allowed to hold a press conference inside a high-security prison "without the Arroyo regime being complicit to it."

"Who is expected to be the prime beneficiary of this stunt other than the candidate originally endorsed by Andal Jr.?" Abad said, apparently referring to Villar.


Andal Jr., who was once spotted wearing an orange Villar baller, said he originally planned to back Aquino's strongest rival but consultations with his father and siblings changed his decision.

Andal Sr. admitted getting offended when Villar questioned the decision to drop murder charges against Zaldy and Akmad.

“Masakit ang salita ni (Nacionalista Party standard bearer) Sen. Manny Villar at ng ibang mga pulitiko laban sa aming pamilya. Inosente kami sa lahat ng bintang laban sa amin. Inabswelto na kami ng Department of Justice at hindi dapat kami magamit sa pulitika," he said.

(The words of Manny Villar and other politicians against our families have been hurtful. We are innocent of all the charges against us. We have been cleared by the Department of Justice and we shouldn't be used for politics.)

He also warned Aquino against poll fraud and urged him to be vigilant. The Ampatuan clan, erstwhile allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was rumored to have helped her win a landslide victory in ARMM in 2004.

Senatorial bets

Andal Jr. said his family will likewise support four LP senatorial candidates, namely: Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Serge Osmeña III, and Ralph Recto.

Other senatorial bets supported by the Ampatuans, Andal Jr. claimed, include: Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino), Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago (PMP), Ramon Revilla Jr. and Lito Lapid, lawyer Adel Tamano, Vicente Sotto III, and Silvestre Bello.

He said his clan will also back partylist groups Anakpawis, Gabriela, and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP). —With Nimfa Ravelo/DzBB, Susan Enriquez/GMA News, JV/GMANews.TV

Original Story:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Watchdog body decries abuse of party-list system

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:33:00 04/17/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—What do scions of political clans, company executives, and top officials of the Arroyo administration have in common?

They all claim to be part of the marginalized sectors.

A perusal of the nominees of the 175 party-list groups running for seats in the House of Representatives in the May 10 elections shows that some of the nominees come from families with positions in the government, top organizations and companies.

In a study of the party-list nominees, election watchdog Kontra Daya said some of the nominees were clearly not members of the marginalized sector they claim to represent.

The group said the nominees were abusing the party-list system, which was created to give under-represented sectors a voice in the legislature.

“The party-list issue highlights the ineptitude and double standards of the Comelec. They disqualify deserving groups while allowing undeserving groups to abuse the system,” the group said.

“When Comelec chairman Jose Melo himself says he has difficulty in understanding the party-list law and system, what can we expect from the Comelec as a whole?” it added.

The names in the study were the latest in a string of “questionable” party-list nominees submitted to the poll body last month, Kontra Daya said.

Earlier, several groups urged the Comelec to disqualify Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, the President's eldest son, as nominee of the Ang Galing Pinoy party, an organization that claims to support security guards.

Some of the nominees violate Comelec rules, Kontra Daya said. Citing a Comelec resolution, the group said a party-list nominee is “one who belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent.”

Kontra Daya noted that the nominees of Alay Buhay Community Development Foundation, a group claiming to represent the poor, has the scion of the Gatchalian business family as its first nominee. It also has Miguel Varela, a former president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, as its third nominee.

“The first nominee is Weslie T. Gatchalian, president of Wellex Industries Inc. The third nominee is Miguel B. Varela, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former chairman and president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines,” Kontra Daya said.

Wellex Industries is a plastics manufacturing company. It is part of The Wellex Group, a company that owns several hotels and casinos and was founded by tycoon William Gatchalian. The Gatchalian's son, Sherwin, is the incumbent mayor of Valenzuela City.

Kontra Daya also deplored the inclusion of mining executive Joel Muyco, who was submitted as the fourth nominee of Ang Minero, an organization that seeks to push for miners' welfare.

According to Kontra Daya, Muyco is general manager and director of Vulcan Industrial Mining Corp.

“Muyco is also the vice president of Wellex Industries Inc., of which Weslie T. Gatchalian, Alay Buhay's first nominee, is president,” the report noted.

Kontra Daya, which has studied 50 of the 175 party lists, also noted that sons and daughters of politicians were nominated.

Ahon Pinoy, a group that protects the welfare of migrant Filipinos, has Manila Times editor Dante “Klink” Ang II as its first nominee. He is the son of publisher Dante Ang, who also heads the Presidential Commission on Overseas Filipinos.

The group's second and third nominees are Emerito Remulla, from the influential Remulla clan of Cavite, and Von Bryan Cuerpo, son of Mayor Pedro Cuerpo of Rodriguez, Rizal, the Kontra Daya study said.

The group Yes We Can's first nominee is Maynard Lapid, son of Sen. Lito Lapid, while the third nominee of Alliance for Community Transformation and Service is Ernesto M. Maceda, son of former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, Kontra Daya said.

Recognizing the need to be stricter in implementing the party-list rules, the Comelec recently issued guidelines mandating party-list nominees to prove that they have “active participation” in the advancement of their sector.

The nominees should present their “declarations, speeches, written articles” to show their active advocacy of their sector, the Comelec said.

Original Story:

Teodoro rejects ‘LP offer’ to quit, join Aquino Cabinet

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:52:00 04/17/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Inquirer Politics, Politics

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—In your dreams.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro has rejected a supposed offer from the Liberal Party that he drop out of the presidential race and support the LP candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in exchange for a Cabinet post.

“He (Teodoro) finds no rhyme or reason to withdraw from the race. Being the people’s candidate, he has to finish and win this race,” said Teodoro’s spokesperson Mike Toledo.

LP leaders are said to have made the offer to Teodoro after two of the ruling coalition’s big guns, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales III, crossed to their camp.

“Only in their dreams,” said Toledo, adding that with the presidential campaign having degenerated into “taunting and disinformation,” the 45-year-old Teodoro is more convinced than ever that Filipinos deserved better.

“He’s convinced that Filipinos deserve a new brand of politics, a principled and issue-driven politics, and that can only be achieved under a Teodoro administration,” he said.

Mutual respect

Toledo, who was interviewed by telephone, said he doubted that Aquino would make such an offer to Teodoro, saying that there was mutual respect between the cousins.

“Senator Noynoy knows Gibo well enough not to bring that up. Noynoy respects Gibo,” he said.

The LP vice-presidential candidate, Sen. Manuel Roxas, denied that the party had offered Teodoro a Cabinet post in an Aquino presidency.

“I have had no discussions with Secretary Teodoro whom I respect. But we have not made any offer to him because we do not want to be presumptuous. Our priority is to ensure the victory of Noynoy as president,” Roxas said.

Misamis Occidental Gov. Loreto Leo Ocampos, the chair of the League of Provinces of the Philippines who had crossed over to the Aquino camp weeks ago, had made the offer while appearing at the ANC “Strictly Politics” TV program on Tuesday night.

At the time rumors were swirling that Salceda was joining the LP. Just the day before, Gonzales had announced his defection to the Aquino camp.

Aquino has consistently topped the candidate preference surveys, followed by Sen. Manuel Villar, the Nacionalista Party candidate, deposed President Joseph Estrada and Teodoro.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD secretary general Raymundo Roquero onn Friday laughed off reports that the Aquino and Estrada camps have been making overtures to Teodoro to give way to them.

“They have casual talks during presidential forums. But that’s all there is to it. There are no arranged meetings,” he said.

“There is no such talk being hatched,” Roquero said.

Teodoro flew to Davao City early Friday to meet with local supporters and attend a presidential forum.

Mandaluyong rally

Teodoro flew back to Manila in time for a mammoth rally in Mandaluyong City Friday night organized by Mayor Benhur Abalos to show that city residents were solidly behind him despite the defection of their congressman, Gonzales.

“We’ve come out with a big party for Gibo,” the young Abalos told reporters.

An estimated crowd of 10,000, mostly wearing yellow shirts (the city colors), packed a long stretch of Nueve de Febrero Street that was furnished with wide screens and closed to traffic for the rally.

Abalos admitted that his father, Benjamin Abalos Jr., was supporting Senator Villar. He said their ties go a long way.

“He is doing it on his own,” he said when asked if his father was convinced by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to support Villar. He said he respected his father’s choice and expected him to do the same with his.

He said he, vice-mayoral candidate Rene Sta. Maria and 26 of 27 barangay captains were campaigning for Teodoro.

Despite the defections, Roquero said the party has a lock on the support of 43 reelectionist governors out of 80 gubernatorial positions available, and eight former governors; 169 congressional candidates out of 230 positions in the House of Representatives; 1,100 municipal mayoral candidates out of 1,500, and 100 city mayoral candidates out of 130.

“They are getting substantial offers from an opposition party, but they remain solid and loyal to Gibo,” he said.

Come-from-behind win

With the support of these candidates, plus the youth, Teodoro could score a victory, Roquero said.

“Nobody is assured of victory here. The survey firms should stop publishing their results. They are not a reflection of the sentiments of the people,” he said.

“We see a long drawn-out battle in this election. There may be a come-from-behind victory,” he said.

Roquero also clarified that the release of campaign funds to the Lakas-Kampi-CMD national and local candidates was being scheduled amid reports that some, including Teodoro, have not received their share.

“Teodoro has not mentioned anything about funding,” he said.

Original Story: