When we unite, We make our life better



MANILA, SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 (STAR) By Christina Mendez – Sen. Francis Escudero, a potential standard bearer of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), said yesterday nobody has “a monopoly on good intentions for our country” as the rival Liberal Party (LP) fielded its top candidates on the platform of good governance and change.

“Nobody can say we are good and all the rest are not good enough. The next government should be inclusive not exclusive,” he said.

“It should embrace every Filipino and exert every effort to tear down the walls of division that have kept our nation from moving forward to greater heights,” he added.

Escudero also said that with the LP’s announcement of Sen. Benigno Aquino III and Sen. Manuel Roxas II as its candidates for president and vice president in 2010, opposition unity “now appears impossible.”

“The LP has declared it would push its own candidates without consulting beforehand with any of the other opposition groups,” he said. “It was a decision made among, and between, members of the LP.”

But he also said, “I respect and accept the decision of the Liberal Party in fielding its own candidates for the 2010 elections.”

The NPC has yet to decide who between Escudero and Sen. Loren Legarda will be its standard bearer for next year’s elections.

Legarda has expressed hope that the upcoming elections would be a friendly competition among the candidates.

At the Club Filipino yesterday, Roxas formally accepted Aquino’s offer to be his vice presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.

Liberal rift

A breakaway faction of the LP represented by Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said there is no need for its members to reapply with LP since their “expulsion” is still being questioned before the Supreme Court.

Eli Quinto, secretary general of Atienza’s LP wing and founder of Kabataang Liberal ng Pilipinas (KALIPI), said “the small group of former Senator Franklin Drilon within the LP” must be enlightened and made to correct “the lies they have been believing and peddling to the public.”

“Let me just remind you that the expulsion of LP leaders made by your minuscule faction on the eve of our supposed election on Nov. 27, 2007 is still being questioned before the SC,” Quinto said, apparently referring to Drilon and “his gang who have formed the habit of misrepresenting the party to pursue their personal, and not the Liberals’ interests.”

“There is no need for anybody to reapply for LP membership. We are confident that the SC will declare the expulsion done by Drilon’s gang illegal,” he said.

“The LP is not Drilon and his gang. They only represent a mere small group within the party who continuously avoid holding a democratic election to evade an inevitable defeat,” he pointed out.

According to Quinto, the majority of LP is “still solidly” under the leadership of Atienza, who, he claimed, just brought Drilon into the party.

He recalled that the latest LP split began in 2005 when Drilon, then LP president, “used and dragged the party’s name in joining moves to topple the present government without consulting the Liberals which blatantly violated the LP constitution. ”

He said Atienza, then party chairman and Manila mayor, together with the LP majority, immediately denied the “machinated treachery” and bared the truth on the “foiled tyrannical plan of Drilon’s gang.”

Since then, Quinto said, “Drilon and his gang had been misinforming the people and distorting the issues by insisting authority over the LP to justify their violation of the party Constitution. ”

Earlier, Atienza said an SC ruling only indicated that Drilon, being the holdover party president, must call for a national convention to hold an election in accordance with the LP’s Salonga Constitution.

However, instead of following the SC ruling, Atienza said Drilon and his group expelled him and other LP stalwarts on the eve of the supposed election, thus “crowning” Roxas as the next party president.

“The only way to solve the problems in the LP and ensure victory is to have party leaders elected through an open national convention,” Quinto reiterated.

“From there, we can then choose the party’s standard bearer. This is the most democratic process that must be followed according to the LP’s basic principles,” he said.

“Up to now, this has not been followed, effecting a weaker chance for the LP to win the presidency due to a disunited party,” he added.

Over the weekend, LP spokesman Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada said Atienza has to reapply for party membership if he wants to run for Manila mayor under the LP.

Tañada said the party considered Atienza resigned as a member when he and other supporters tried to wrest the party’s leadership from then LP president Franklin Drilon.

“He has to apply for membership again, and the party will study it,” he said in reaction to Atienza’s statement that he still considers himself a party member.

Atienza was unavailable for comment.


Meanwhile, Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francisco de Leon voiced support for the Aquino-Roxas tandem, citing their good family backgrounds.

“These men came from good families and we know their parents to be good politicians, whose names are not tainted by any corruption, especially Senator Aquino who does not want to ruin the reputation of his mother and the legacy left behind by his father,” said De Leon in an interview over the Church-run Radio Veritas.

“We know that our country would be safe from irregularities and I also know that he (Senator Noynoy Aquino) would do his best to lead the country.”

“What is clear is that the country needs leaders with good and clean track records so they could attract investors, unlike other politicians nowadays,” he added.

But he stressed that in order to get the nod of the Catholic Church as an institution, Aquino has to withdraw his support for the Reproductive Health Bill and that he should promote the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“He should side with the poor, just like the Church sides with poor,” he added.

For his part, CBCP treasurer and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said, “What is more important to me is the true intentions of Senator Aquino and Senator Roxas. They should make sure that they would serve as good examples of change. They should change society by being loyal and transparent to the Filipino people.” – With Aurea Calica, Evelyn Macairan, Katherine Andraneda

Palace to Noynoy: Face off with Gibo By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) Updated September 22, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang called yesterday on Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. and Sen. Benigno Aquino III to face off in a debate to show their mettle to the voters.

Gabriel Claudio, presidential adviser on political affairs, said the debate would help voters decide whether the Lakas-Kampi- CMD and Liberal Party presidential aspirants have the courage, spirit and strength of character to govern the nation.

“With Noynoy and Gibo among the main protagonists in the presidential polls next year, the country will have a real chance to participate in an election based not on showbiz, popularity and logistics but on issues and principles,” he said.

Claudio, who is also Lakas-Kampi- CMD secretary general, said other aspirants must also take part in the debates to allow voters to evaluate their worth on the basis of their ability to inspire, lead and educate.

As a result, the voters would hear the stand of aspirant on various issues and help them decide who would best serve their interests, he added.

Claudio said aspirants who refuse to participate in the debates would give the impression that they lack substance or are unable to articulate their views.

“Issues about the economy, accountable governance, foreign policy, peace and unity and national security, among other substantive issues, have to be exhaustively and unabashedly debated,” he said.

“This will be consistent with the common advocacy for clean, honest, credible and issues-driven elections.”

Meanwhile, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez welcomed yesterday the tandem of Aquino and Sen. Manuel Roxas II for next year’s presidential elections.

Alvarez proposes ‘unscripted’ questions

Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez suggested an unscripted question-and- answer format among candidates that would allow the public to know more about the candidates’ program for the country.

“If there is fighting in Mindanao, shouldn’t candidates be talking about how to end this war instead of how to fix their wardrobe?” he asked.

The proposed debates are like the presidential primaries in the United States, Alvarez said.

Over the weekend, Teodoro said there would be no mudslinging between him and his cousin Aquino during the election campaign.

He said politics and the election campaign would not destroy his good friendship and blood relations with Aquino.

The two presidential aspirants are both Cojuangcos on their mothers’ side.

Teodoro is a nephew of billionaire businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., estranged cousin of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, Noynoy’s mother.

Teodoro admitted that their families belonged to the opposite sides of the political fence.

“But that was before. Noynoy and I, though we are cousins, didn’t know each other much. But we became close friends when we were elected to the House of Representatives, ” he said.

The two are both former three-term Tarlac congressmen.

Teodoro to push Cha-cha

Teodoro intends to push for Charter change (Cha-cha) through a constitutional convention (con-con) if he is elected president.

In an interview over the weekend, Teodoro, Lakas-Kampi standard-bearer, told The STAR that he would like to keep the presidential system but with a unicameral Congress.

“There is too much check-and-balance and gridlock in a two-chamber Congress. There is no synergy,” he said.

Responding to questions, he said his envisioned one-chamber legislature would be composed of members elected from congressional districts, much like the present House of Representatives.

He said if incumbent members of the Senate would like to sit in the unicameral Congress, they would have to run in the districts.

Teodoro, a former three-term Tarlac congressman, revealed that if he is elected president, he would immediately propose to the incoming Congress the convening of a con-con to rewrite the Constitution.

He said he prefers a con-con because there would be less suspicion of self-interest on the part of its members than if the body to revise the Charter would be Congress itself sitting as a constituent assembly (con-ass).

“A con-con would be a capital investment for the country’s future,” he said.

Asked what other constitutional changes he is advocating, the defense chief said he would lift the restriction on foreign ownership of land..

“We should allow foreigners to own lands for commercial, industrial and tourism development purposes,” he said.

“They should also be allowed to own residential lands, but I would like to have a threshold amount, say P20 million, so that low-cost housing would be protected.”

Teodoro’s proposal on foreign ownership of land is much like Speaker Prospero Nograles’ Resolution 737, which seeks to amend Sections 2 and 3 of Article Xll of the Constitution to lift the foreign ownership restriction.

The House committee on constitutional amendments had endorsed plenary approval of the Nograles-proposed amendments, but these were overtaken by the much faster Resolution 1109, which proposes to convene “members of Congress” as a con-ass to propose Charter revisions.

Before Congress ended its second regular session in June, the House approved Resolution 1109 in plenary and sat on the Nograles-recommende d amendments.

According to some lawmakers, marching orders for the adoption of the con-ass resolution came from President Arroyo, who gave them to Nograles and other allies after she declared the merger of Lakas and Kampi at the Manila Hotel on May 28.

One source told reporters that the President wanted the Senate bypassed on Cha-cha.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, former president of Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino), is the author of Resolution 1109. But it was Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and presidential son Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo who led the solicitation of House members’ signatures on the resolution.

Romualdez is one of President Arroyo’s favorite companions in her travels abroad. According to Palace officials, he paid $20,000 for the controversial New York City dinner Mrs. Arroyo and her entourage enjoyed during her last visit to the United States.

Nograles and his colleagues are no longer talking about Resolutions 737 and 1109.

The Cha-cha campaign in the House is now dead, according to many lawmakers.

Aspirants urged to bare plans on population

Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone has urged all presidential aspirants to bare their plans on how to handle the country’s population growth, as well as their position on the Reproductive Health Bill.

Speaking at a recent forum, Evardone urged reproductive health advocates to invite all the presidential aspirants for a reproductive health debate..

The next president must have an aggressive program on reproductive health to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality rates, he added.

Eastern Samar is one of the provinces with high maternal and neonatal deaths, according to United Nations agencies.

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. has called on presidential aspirants to make “their positions (on the reproductive health issue) very clear.”

House Bill 5043, The Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood, and Population Development Bill, makes artificial contraceptives more accessible to the public through health programs and calls for sex education in schools.

“Access to contraceptives will make a difference, ” said Australian Agency for International Development minister counselor Titon Mitra. – With Jess Diaz, Helen Flores

Noynoy ready to debate with Gibo By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated September 23, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Benigno Aquino III is ready to engage other presidential aspirants in a debate, including his cousin, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr.

Meanhile, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile warned Aquino against supporters who were the same people behind the ouster of President Joseph Estrada and a plot to overthrow the Arroyo administration.

Aquino said he would like to join the presidential debates proposed by presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio so the elections would focus on issues rather than personalities.

“I’m okay with that,” Aquino said.

Aquino said it would also be good to have a debate with Claudio, even if he is not running for office.

“We will come to that,” he said.

“But maybe it’s better if we will do that after the filing (of certificates of candidacy) so we would not have to debate with those who would not really be in the scene.”

Speaking in defense of Estrada against the allegations of Sen. Panfilo Lacson at the Senate, Enrile said he could see the same people who were involved in Edsa 2 that toppled Estrada in 2001 in the inner circle of Aquino.

“Today, I see these same faces parading themselves as leaders and supporters of the candidacy of my dear colleague (Aquino),” he said.

Enrile said these were the same people who asked Estrada to support them when they wanted to oust President Arroyo.

“Evidently, they have no more use for Erap,” he said.

The leaders of the so-called civil society also asked him for help in their protest actions against the Aquino administration, Enrile said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he would like to watch Aquino and Teodoro engage in debate.

“We will know all these things once debates are held in time,” he said.

“We want major news networks and print (media) to come out with a nationwide debate so we will find out the best among the candidates who deserve our votes.”

Aquino supporters

Supporters are shelling out change for the presidential candidacy of Aquino.

Residents of Lupang Pangako in Payatas, Quezon City each gave a P1 coin for Aquino, who they believe will bring about the change they have always wanted.

Ed Roces, Noynoy Aquino for President Movement spokesman, said it was the local leaders in Payatas who approached their group about their intention of supporting Aquino’s presidential bid.

“They said they would support by giving money and we were so touched,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of the “Piso at Puso sa Pagbabago,” Roces said around 200 residents dropped a P1 coin into cans that would be delivered to Aquino’s residence on Times Street in Quezon City on Nov. 27.

“These people are sharing money for the campaign instead of the other way around. This is a revolution of the masses,” he said.

“This is the real change, very unusual thing.”

Roces said the residents of Payatas are investing in Aquino.

“That’s a different thing because the peso here is very significant, ” he said.

They would be replicating the movement in other areas of the country, particularly in President Arroyo’s bailiwick in Pampanga, Roces said. – With Reinir Padua

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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