MANILA, MAY 6, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Gil C. Cabacungan - Big religious groups wooed in final week of campaign.

Senatorial candidates are seeking “command votes” and visiting vote-rich provinces in the final week of the campaign to gain the support of the still significant number of voters who have yet to decide whom to vote for.

Reelectionist Sen. Gregorio Honasan of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said the battle for command votes from big religious and civic groups, and influential local politicians would be the theme this week.

“I think the command votes will prove crucial in getting the voters who are still undecided on their 12 choices this late stage in the campaign,” Honasan said in a phone interview.

Candidates with a statistical chance of winning a Senate seat are separated from their nearest rivals by less than a percentage point to up to three percentage points—well within the margin of errors of survey results conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia.

SWS surveys have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points and Pulse Asia surveys, plus or minus two percentage points.

The race is especially tight among those in the 8th to 17th places as the number of undecided voters ranged from two percent in the preelection surveys by SWS on March 15-17 and April 13-15 to 7.7 percent and 6.1 percent in the March 16-20 and April 20-22 surveys, respectively, by Pulse Asia.

In the nationwide survey conducted by Pulse Asia in April, for instance, six candidates were fighting over a slot in the Magic 12.

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (31.2 percent) was in 8th to 12th places; Juan Miguel Zubiri (29.7 percent) was in 10th to 16th places; Honasan (27.9 percent) and Jack Enrile (27.2 percent) were both in 11th to 16th places; and, Risa Hontiveros (25.8 percent) and Ramon Magsaysay Jr. (25.6 percent) shared the 12th to 17th spots.

Angara of Team PNoy said command votes would be crucial especially for those in the lower third of the Magic 12 where numerous candidates still have a statistical chance of barging into the winning circle.

“Command votes can be those from large groups whether religious, sectoral, or political organizations,” Angara said.

Thousands of members of the religious group El Shaddai attend a mass at the Amvel complex in Paranaque city, suburban Manila: El Shaddai has officially announced their endorsement of six senatorial bets for the upcoming midterm elections. The group based their selection for their stand against issues like the RH law, divorce and same-sex marriage.

Iglesia, El Shaddai

The religious groups aggressively courted by candidates are the block-voting Iglesia Ni Kristo (which is expected to issue its preferred list a few days before Election Day), the Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ (Pastor Apollo Quiboloy is expected to release his list this week) and El Shaddai (Bro. Mike Velarde announced his choices a few weeks ago).

Angara said his group would intensify its efforts this week by stepping up visibility through media and personal appearances.

“The last week endorsements from large organizations and influential individuals will help a great deal,” said Angara, who was endorsed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Sunday morning.

Vote–rich provinces

Sen. Loren Legarda said her focus would be on vote–rich provinces that have been her traditional final stops in every campaign.

Legarda of Team PNoy has maintained her No. 1 ranking in major preelection surveys. Her lead over her closest rivals, however, was not big enough to allow her to relax in the final stretch.

She stressed the importance of the command votes, especially from the religious sector and political blocs in Mindanao “that are traditionally solid in their voting.”

Laguna, Isabela

Honasan cited Laguna and Isabela as having strong command votes.

But former Sen. Jamby Madrigal of Team PNoy argued that at this point, most voters had already made up their minds.

“If Filipinos don’t believe you by now, any extra efforts in the last week will not convince them. I’m leaving it to the Filipino people and God if I will again be rewarded a Senate seat,” said Madrigal.

She said there was no “sense of panic” in the last week of the campaign as she was confident of her chances based on nonbiased, private surveys that showed her in the Magic 12.

Connecting with people

“I believe I have run a good and truthful campaign. I campaigned hard with President Aquino. I was a team player and I did my best. I have courted the peoples’ hearts and connected with them. I believe it will work for me in the long run rather than having courted only the survey companies,” Madrigal said.

She said she was running a campaign devoid of any negative attacks. “I don’t think I need to bring other candidates down for people to vote for me.”

San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito Estrada, an UNA senatorial candidate, said he would use the last few days to visit provinces he missed out.

“I think we just have to continue what we have been doing which has been effective so far. I missed a few areas because I got sick in the middle of the campaign,” Estrada said in a text message.

Unscathed in accident

Not even an accident would slow down former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. of Team PNoy from squeezing out the most of the last week of the campaign.

Magsaysay’s car crashed into a center island on the Alabang-Zapote Road on his way to his Ayala Alabang home in Muntinlupa City on Saturday, but he and his driver did not suffer any injury.

After a routine check-up in a hospital, Magsaysay joined a three-hour motorcade with celebrity endorser Richard Yap that same day. Magsaysay, who is expected to fly to Tacloban City on Tuesday, said he was fit to attend Team PNoy’s rallies in Manila on Thursday and Quezon City on Friday.

Increase visibility

Honasan said his strategy in the last days of the campaign was to increase visibility and audibility in an environment marred by political noise from senatorial and local candidates.

“We have to make sure that we rise above the noise and send our message,” he said.

He said this was the reason candidates increase their campaign ads for television in the last few weeks of the campaign because it was the best way to reach out to a large audience. “But for those without the resources, we have to make do with our house-to-house campaign,” he said.

Angara said his father, outgoing Sen. Edgardo Angara, had advised him that the last week was the most critical period of the campaign.

“He told me that I should have something special left in my bag to keep a strong momentum going into Election Day,” the younger Angara said.—With Inquirer Research

2016, here she comes: Kris Aquino to run for Tarlac gov By Carmel Loise Matus, Norman Bordadora Inquirer Mindanao, Inquirer Visayas 1:18 am | Saturday, May 4th, 2013

[Kris Aquino in Tacloban campaign rally: ‘Game over’ for opposition in Tacloban mayoralty race. “Kabilin-bilinan ni PNoy, gawin ko raw ang lahat para masigurado na ikaw na ang magiging mayor ng Tacloban City. Kaya hiningi ko ang kanyang vest dahil nakaabot po sa akin na yung kalaban ni mayor Bem, kung anu-ano raw pong paninira ang ginagawa sa akin at kay Senator Chiz,” Kris said over the weekend before a cheering crowd at the Leyte Sports Complex. (PNoy specifically requested me to do everything I can to make sure that you will become the mayor of Tacloban City. So I asked for his vest because I learned that Mayor Bem’s rival has been saying things against me and Senator Chiz) Chiz is re-electionist Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who was also on stage along with another senatorial bet, former MTRCB chairperson Grace Poe and other local candidates. PNoy on the other hand is the moniker of the President.]

CEBU CITY—Who can crush the Binays in their home turf?

Not presidential sister Kris Aquino, or so she believes, as she has announced her plans to run for public office in 2016 not in Makati, where she has long been a resident, but in her home province of Tarlac.

“Mahirap tibagin ang mga Binay (The Binays would be difficult to defeat),” Aquino told reporters in a news conference at the Ayala Terraces here.

The outspoken TV personality was in Cebu to campaign for the second straight day for reelectionist Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe, both candidates of the administration coalition Team PNoy.

“And they (the Binays) have been doing a good job in running the city,” Aquino said when asked why she would not want to run against the Binays.

Aquino earlier said during the news conference that she would establish residency in a city in Metro Manila and run for office there. But later, she said she would probably just run for governor in Tarlac.

“The incumbent (Tarlac) governor Vic Yap is now running for his last term. He said he would give it to me (to run for),” Aquino said.

Members of the Binay clan have been at the helm of Makati City Hall since 1986 when former President Corazon Aquino appointed Jejomar “Jojo” Binay officer in charge of the then municipality.

Jojo Binay has since been elected to six terms as mayor of the city. He was elected Vice President in 2010.

The constitutional term limit forced him out of the mayoralty race in 1998 but his wife Elenita successfully ran to keep the post within the family.

Their son Jejomar Erwin was elected mayor in 2010 and is, as expected, seeking reelection in May.

Local post

Aquino, who said she prefers a local executive position rather than a legislative function, said she plans to take up a post-graduate course to prepare her for governance. Escudero would be her mentor, she said.

“Chiz would be the one to do my assignments,” Aquino said in jest.

In a more serious tone, Aquino said, “I want to have credentials.”

She told reporters she had no plans of seeking a national post just yet because she has no track record to speak of, unlike her cousin Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, a senatorial candidate, who has been involved in microfinance, among his other achievements.

Aquino said she does not want to run for office only on account of being the daughter of national hero Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Cory Aquino and the sister of President Aquino.

“Gusto ko may maiambag naman para sa bayan (I want to contribute something to the country),” she added.

Promoting tourism

She said she wants to help promote local tourism in the country, citing Bantayan Island, a known tourism destination in Cebu which she described as a “mini-Boracay” because of its pristine white sand beach and clear waters.

Aquino also announced that she was buying a resort property in Barangay Gumasa in Glan, Sarangani, in General Santos City.

Aquino earlier wrote on her Twitter account that she fell in love with the fine white sand beaches of Gumasa when she first came to visit in February.

She was shooting for her weeklong “Kris TV” birthday special when she decided to take a break.

In a spur of the moment decision, the TV host said she and her crew visited Glan, and were surprised by what they saw.

Love at first sight

A city government staff member who accompanied Aquino to Gumasa said that upon setting foot at the Rosal Beach, the TV host immediately took off her shoes and walked on the white sand.

“It was love at first sight for the presidential sister, who even said she would want to buy property there,”ť the city government staff member said then.

Aquino said in jest that “everybody would want to be my neighbor” if she pushed through with her plan to buy property there, he added.

She devoted a major portion of the subsequent episodes of her TV show to Gumasa and its beaches.

During Thursday’s press conference that she hosted for Escudero and Poe, Aquino disclosed that she was already trying to work out deals for her plan to buy property in Gumasa.


Aquino, Poe and Escudero came from Davao City Friday night where they led a series of campaign rallies.

Aquino said it was the first time that no member of the Presidential Security Group fetched her from Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in Lapu-Lapu City to take her to the hotel.

But she said she did not mind because she always felt safe whenever she was in Cebu.

Aquino said that like the other passengers in the airport, they had to line up for a metered taxi that would take them to their hotel where they spent the night.

On their way to the airport, she said she talked to the taxi driver whom she identified as “Alex” and endorsed the candidacy of Poe and Escudero.

She said she enjoyed her conversation with the driver so much that she did not ask for her change when she handed him a P1,000 bill for her P470 fare.

Selective endorsement

A day after indicating that she was supporting the candidacies of only some of the President’s senatorial candidates, the younger Aquino on Friday said her brother and sister Pinky sent text messages asking her to stop commenting on her apparently selective endorsement of administration hopefuls.

“P-Noy and my sister Pinky texted me… They asked me to stop discussing (this issue),” Aquino told reporters in a news conference.

Aquino, nonetheless, said she has the credibility to endorse whoever she supports for senator because of her being the country’s top individual taxpayer for 2012 according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

She said those she would endorse are those who would take care of the country’s funds.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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