Sunday, April 4, 2010

No deal with Arroyo, husband, says Villar (NP boss hits back at foes)

By Nikko Dizon, Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:44:00 04/05/2010

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Manny Villar, Benigno Aquino III, Joseph Estrada

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Sunday angrily said that contrary to reports, there was “no deal” between him and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or her husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.

Villar said that as things stood, he was already furious with the Liberal Party (LP) for linking him with the Arroyos throughout the election campaign, and stressed that he had never sought money or help from the President or her husband.

“That will never happen. And … and I am angry with this attempt of the Liberal Party, the opposition, to link my name [with the Arroyos],” he told reporters in an interview before going on stage with El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde at the group’s Easter Sunday celebration.

Earlier at the same occasion, LP presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III told reporters that his allies had received reports of a purported alliance between Villar and Mike Arroyo. He declined to elaborate, saying it was still Holy Week.

Ousted President Joseph Estrada, the standard-bearer of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), said talk of the purported alliance between Villar and the Arroyos would work against the NP standard-bearer.

“I have to say that’s a disadvantage to Manny,” Estrada said, adding:

“I would have to say that [former Defense Secretary Gilbert] Gibo Teodoro is one of the most qualified presidential candidates who only has that baggage behind him, being the candidate of the administration. Personally, I respect him and admire him. He’s a good man and very intelligent.”

Aquino (the front-runner in the surveys) and Estrada (third after Villar and trailed by Teodoro) had left the El Shaddai Easter celebration before Villar and his party arrived.

On the sidelines of the NP’s proclamation of its Pasay City candidates at the Cuneta Astrodome Sunday afternoon, Villar said he had not asked Mike Arroyo or anyone else to solicit the support of the influential Garcia clan of Cebu.

Wooing local bets

“I have not spoken to the First Gentleman or the President ever since I was ousted as Senate president. I did not authorize anyone to represent me. I never asked for help from anyone in Malacañang,” he said.

But Villar also said he, along with all the other presidential candidates, were courting the local candidates, including those in the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“The local candidates choose to go with whoever they like, with who they think will win,” he said.

Villar said many more local Lakas members would have moved to the NP in November and December last year had not Ms Arroyo intervened.

“I thought they would be shifting to me; there were a lot of them. The President did not order them not to transfer to the NP, but she persuaded them not to do so,” he said.

The senator said the transfer of the local candidates’ allegiance from one political party to another during the election season was a normal occurrence in the country’s democratic process.

“It has always happened in the past. It’s happening now and it will happen in the future unless there are reforms [in the party system],” he said.

Lies and slander

Villar also said his being portrayed as Ms Arroyo’s “secret candidate”—and the derisive moniker “Villaroyo”—were intended to discredit him.

“These are all lies and slander. They just want to cover up the fact that nobody [among the local candidates is moving to their party],” he said.

Villar’s running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda, appealed to the media to investigate the source of the rumors linking Villar to Ms Arroyo.

“It’s a missile attack that intends to weaken Gibo and at the same time taint my presidential candidate,” Legarda said when asked by reporters to comment on circulating text messages that at a press conference on Monday, Teodoro would denounce Ms Arroyo for backing Villar.

She said that as a former media practitioner, she recognized these text messages as part of psychological warfare launched to discredit Villar.

“Who will benefit from this? It’s the ‘dirty yellow.’ It’s sad that instead of our politicians concentrating on discussing programs for the poor, what’s prevailing is the spread of slander and evil conscience,” she said.

Asked who she thought were behind the text messages, she said she had her “own intelligence sources.”

Pressed further to name names, she said they were probably former members of the Arroyo Cabinet who were now with the opposition.

Demolition job

In a statement, NP spokesperson and senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla also said the party “has not entered into any deal whatsoever” with Ms Arroyo or her husband.

Remulla said Villar had not talked with the Arroyos “in a long time,” and that “reports that he is the purported ‘secret candidate’ of Malacañang are absolutely false and part of the unrelenting demolition job against him.”

“The NP has relied on its own resources and the unstinting support of Filipinos who want genuine reforms in the country since the start of the election campaign. We do not need Malacañang’s support, whether material or moral, to bring us to victory on Election Day,” Remulla said.

Villar expressed confidence that the attempts to link him with the Arroyos would not affect his standing in the surveys.

Asked if he believed in the so-called “kiss of death” of the administration party on a presidential candidate, he said: “That’s what all the surveys say.”

He reiterated that he had never and would never ask for any help from Ms Arroyo.

Villar said the LP was behind the purported demolition job against him even if the unnamed source in the Inquirer report on April 1 about the supposed alliance between him and Mike Arroyo was a Lakas senatorial candidate.

“Ang sa akin, sama-sama na yan … Paulit-ulit ito sinasabi ng Liberal (For me, it’s all of a piece. The LP has been harping on it). They coined the term ‘Villarroyo,’” he said.

Villar also cried foul over the LP’s supposed smear campaign over the exodus of administration men to his party.

Family affairs

He pointed out that the LP welcomed Lakas-Kampi-CMD members to its camp last year, but raised malice when administration members transferred to the NP.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” he said.

Villar challenged Aquino to explain why he had many family members working in the Arroyo administration and said he should “perhaps make his relatives resign [their [posts].”

According to the NP statement, Aquino’s relatives who had worked or are still with the Arroyo administration are Paul Aquino, former Tarlac Gov. Margarita Cojuangco, Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara and former Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta.

Paul Aquino is the president and chief executive officer of Energy Development Corp. Cojuangco is president of Philippine Public Safety College. Aquino-Kashiwahara is an image consultant of the President. (Her son-in-law, Eleazar Quinto, briefly served as acting environment secretary.)

Said Remulla: “Noynoy’s relatives are working for GMA and benefiting from this corrupt administration which he claims he will sweep away. These same relatives who are well-entrenched in the GMA administration are now backing Noynoy. So who’s Gloria’s secret candidate? Even Cabinet members of GMA are openly supporting Noynoy when they are supposed to be working for Gibo. Now look who’s talking.”

Original Story:

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