Thursday, April 15, 2010

Estrada on Teodoro: What a pity, he’s most qualified

By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:37:00 04/15/2010

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

Original Story:

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—The standard-bearer of the defection-plagued Lakas-Kampi-CMD has found an unlikely ally in the man claiming to be “the only true opposition.”

Ousted President Joseph Estrada expressed sympathy for Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro on Tuesday night, saying it was a pity that despite his strengths as a candidate, key officials of the ruling party were deserting him.

“Parang nanghihinayang ako,” the standard-bearer of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino said of Teodoro.

Estrada heaped praise on Teodoro, saying the former defense secretary and congressman was “the most qualified person” after himself among the other presidential contenders.

“Gibo is an upright man, intelligent, articulate. I have high respect for him,” Estrada told reporters at Leyte Park Hotel shortly before holding a grand rally later in the night.

He expressed openness to having Teodoro in his team, and said the latter would have been a shoo-in in the senatorial race under any political ticket.

Despite the ‘baggage’

Estrada said one thing “admirable” about Teodoro was that he “remains loyal to his party even if he’s carrying baggage”—a reference to his being the candidate of the highly unpopular President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“He’s a principled man,” Estrada said. “Sayang si Gibo. Without the baggage he’s carrying, he’s one of the strong contenders that I know.”

Part of Estrada’s admiration also stemmed from the fact that as a representative of Tarlac in 2000, Teodoro did not support the impeachment complaint filed against him.

The ruling party is being rocked by defections. The latest is Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Ms Arroyo’s top economic adviser, who is joining the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Aquino III. (See story on Page A1.)

Earlier in the week, Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales announced that he was joining Aquino’s camp as well.

Hocking assets

As for his own campaign for the post that he lost in 2001 halfway through his term, Estrada is leaving no stone unturned.

He said he had hocked two of his properties to add to his dwindling campaign kitty, claiming he was losing the battle with his fellow presidential contenders in the finances department.

“I’ve already mortgaged properties,” he said.

He added that the deed was done about two months ago, and that he would spend the money mainly on television ads “so the people will remember me.”

Estrada said he could not match the campaign funds of the survey front-runners, particularly billionaire Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

He said this reality in his attempt to return to Malacañang should disprove his plunder conviction by the Sandiganbayan.

“If I were a plunderer, would I allow myself to lose to Villar in terms of spending? It would have been very easy to spend money gathered through plunder,” he said.

‘Reach out’

Estrada said his main strategy now was to “reach out and go directly to the people.”

“We can’t afford to buy local officials. It’s expensive. Only Manny Villar can do that,” he said in Filipino, noting that some of his former supporters, such as senatorial candidate Adel Tamano, were now with Villar’s.

Estrada said he was aiming for around 10 million votes—lesser than the 10.7 million that he received during the 1998 presidential election.

He admitted that the competition had become stiffer, and complained that media coverage was focused mostly on Villar and Aquino.

But Estrada said he did not mind the relative lack of attention. He pointed out that the camps of Villar and Aquino were now engaged in political mudslinging.

“Perhaps their thinking is that if they attack me, the people might end up sympathizing with me, as the people did in 1998,” he said. “But they will have the surprise of their lives.”

Original Story:

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