[PRESIDENT AQUINO: no ‘imminent threat yet’ to start evacuation of Filipinos in Korea. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO]

STA. CRUZ, LAGUNA, APRIL 8, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Maila Ager —President Benigno Aquino III on Friday said there was no “imminent threat ” yet to start the evacuation of about 40,000 Filipinos in the tense Korean Peninsula.

But Aquino, speaking in a campaign sortie of Team PNoy candidates at the town plaza here, said he has ordered authorities “to assess whether or not the threat is real and how bad is it.”

In fact, he said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will go to South Korea to oversee the preparations being made to evacuate the Filipinos in case war erupts.

“But as of now, we have not received any information saying there is imminent threat that will necessitate evacuation,” Aquino said in Filipino.

The President assured however that contingency plans are in place in case war erupts on the Korean peninsula, pointing out the preparations that have been made by his government when fears of possible war first broke out two years ago.

Unlike before where the Philippines had only one C-130 aircraft to evacuate its citizens, Aquino said the country now has three aircrafts that would hasten the evacuation.

“So right now, we have better capabilities. We have three C130s,” he said.

Aquino said the Philippines has been talking to other nations to assist Manila in case evacuation becomes necessary.

“I’m reasonably confident that the Filipino community organizations working hand-in-hand with the embassy will be able to organize our countrymen in the event that there is a need to evacuate them. And we are talking with other countries also to assist us in this effort,” he said.

But the President reiterated that repatriating Filipinos at this stage remained unnecessary.

“Let us not cause undue alarm,” Aquino said.

Tensions have soared on the Korean peninsula since December, when the North test-launched a long-range rocket. In February, it conducted its third nuclear test and drew fresh UN sanctions.

But incensed at fresh UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, it has issued a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks.

Early Thursday the army said it had received final approval for military action against the United States, possibly involving nuclear weapons.

On Thursday, North Korea moved a medium-range missile to its east coast as the United States strengthened its Pacific missile defenses amid intensifying threats from Pyongyang.

Apart from its threats of nuclear attack, the North also warned this week it would reopen its mothballed Yongbyon reactor — its source of weapons-grade plutonium that was closed in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord.

Most experts think the North is not yet capable of mounting a nuclear device on a ballistic missile capable of striking US bases or territory.

But the reopening of Yongbyon gives it a way of replenishing its bomb-making material. With Agence France-Presse


Team PNoy maintains lead over UNA, Pulse Asia survey shows By Kim Arveen Patria | Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom – Wed, Apr 3, 2013.. . .

President Benigno Aquino III, also Liberal Party (LP) Chairman, with the LP bets for the upcoming 2013 midterm elections, during the LP proclamation rally held at Plaza Miranda infront of the Quiapo Church …more less

Administration bets still dominated the list of candidates with statistical chances of winning the 2013 senatorial polls, the latest Pulse Asia survey showed.

Of the so-called "Magic 12" spots, nine were occupied by Team PNoy candidates, leaving only three for bets from the United Nationalist Alliance slate.

Re-electionists still sat on top of the polls, led by Sen. Loren Legarda, who was ranked 1st-2nd, with 55.3 percent of the total 1,800 respondents in the Mar. 16 t0 20 survey.

Legarda was followed by Senators Chiz Escudero at 1st-3rd (51.5 percent) and Alan Peter Cayetano at 2nd-3rd (48.7 percent).

Purple Thumb: Get to know your candidates

Former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board Chairman Grace Poe-Llamanzares was a far fourth at 42.1 percent.

She shared the 4th-10th spots with another re-electionist, Senator Koko Pimentel, who got of 41.7 percent.

Former Las Pinas City Rep. Cynthia Villar, another administration bet, was not far behind with 40.8 percent.

Villar shared the 4th-11th spot with UNA bet Nancy Binay, the daughter of Vice-President Jejomar Binay (39.6 percent).

At 4th-12th, meawnhile, were San Juan City Rep. JV Ejercito of UNA (38.6 percent); presidential cousin Bam Aquino of Team PNoy (38.6 percent); and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of Team PNoy (37.7 percent).

Rounding out the list of likely winners are Senator Gringo Honasan at 6th-14th (36.8) and Aurora Rep. Edgardo Angara, Jr. at 8-15th (34.6 percent).

At least three UNA candidates, however, may still wrestle a spot from those in the latest "Magic 12" in the roundup to the polls.

Former Sen. Migz Zubiri (32.5 percent) was ranked 11th-16th with Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile (32.4 percent).

Former Sen. Richard Gordon meanwhile landed in the 12th-17th spot with 30.7 percent of respondents preferring him.

Also included in the survey were: former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. (Team PNoy), 28.2 former Sen. Jamby Madrigal (Team PNoy), 27.3 percent former Akbayan Party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros (Team PNoy), 24.3 percent former Sen. Ernesto Maceda (UNA), 14.1 percent former Tarlac Gov. Tingting Cojuangco (UNA), 13 percent Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay (UNA), 12.7 percent Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn (independent), 12.7 percent Eddie Villanueva (independent), 10.2 percent Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casino (independent), 7.2 percent JC de los Reyes (Ang Kapatiran), 3 percent Ramon Montano (independent), 2.9 percent Samson Alcantara (independent), 2.6 percent Rizalito David (Ang Kapatiran), 2.3 percent Greco Belgica (Democratic Party of the Philippines), 2 percent Baldomero Falcone (DPP), 2 percent Ricardo Penson (independent), 2 percent Marwil Llasos (Ang Kapatiran), 1.7 percent former BUHAY Party-list Rep. Christian Seneras (DPP), 1 percent


Villar unfazed by 'Kris factor' in Noynoy campaign

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar Jr. on Thursday downplayed news that TV host Kris Aquino is actively campaigning for her brother, Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, in LP sorties.

Villar's wife, Las Piñas City Rep. Cynthia Villar, said Kris's presence in Aquino's campaign sorties will be an asset for the LP bet, whose lead in presidential surveys has been dipping.

She said that their camp can counter Kris's fame with their own assets.

"Every campaign has its assets and liabilities. I think she will be an asset, and we have many assets also. So it's fair," Mrs. Villar told Headstart's host Karen Davila.

The ABS-CBN talk show host joined her brother's campaign sorties in Zamboanga City for the first time after recent presidential surveys showed Aquino potentially losing votes.

"It would be hypocritical not to admit that we are worried but we're confident that we will be able to regain the big lead," Kris told reporters at the Zamboanga airport.

Kris said she took time off from a TV show after her sister, Pinky, asked her to join the Zamboanga City sortie to satisfy the persistent demand of the city's supporters for her presence.

Kris said she is scheduled to fly to Davao and Iloilo to join her brother's campaign rallies.

"If you will overwhelmingly vote for Noy, definitely I will return with Baby James. I will return with Noy and we'll meet again," she said before leaving the airport.

Villar ads

Mrs. Villar, meanwhile, denied that her family had spent close to a billion pesos for TV ads during the pre-campaign period. A Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism report earlier said Villar spent about P475.4 million on ads from November 2009 to January 2010.

"Sometimes it's registered, but it's not the price you [really] pay. There are discounts to that," she told ANC.

Asked if Villar has already reached the P1.2 billion mark in campaign spendings, the congresswoman flatly said "No."

Mrs. Villar said that she was "very surprised" that her husband was able to cut Aquino's double-digit lead in presidential surveys.

She said her husband's infomercials allowed him to present his platform and accomplishments. Villar is running on an anti-poverty agenda in his campaign for the presidency.

“He has an affinity to the poor, which is very important because our country is composed of 92% poor. A president should understand what it is to be poor and how to get out of poverty so he can help these people get out of poverty,” she said.

Won't abuse power

If Villar is elected president, she said her husband will not cling to power and will not take advantage of his position.

She said she and her husband have a long-standing agreement that if ever they are elected to a position, they will not take advantage of its perks.

“We have talked about it that when we get a position, we will not take advantage of the perks so that when we lose the position, all of them are temporary, we will not miss anything,” Mrs. Villar said.

She said Villar has been able to abide by the agreement despite being elected to the positions of House Speaker and Senate President.

“He doesn't love power. He can manage power. You will see that during his time as a Speaker and a Senate President, he did not exercise the power and privileges he is entitled to,” she said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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