, JANUARY 15, 2011 (STAR) By James Deakin - Noy will get expert driver training for Porsche.

Trusted sources who were at the Clark International Speedway with President Aquino last Dec. 26 have confirmed that his newest plaything is a white 2007 model 997, Porsche 911 Turbo, which is anything but entry level.

Right out of the box, the 3.6-liter, twin turbo, six-cylinder Boxer engine has been blessed with an earth-shattering 480 horsepower, or enough power to run four Toyota Corollas comfortably, and can reach 100 kilometers an hour from a standstill in less time than it took you to finish this sentence.

After turning the screws on our automotive sources, all of which have demanded to remain nameless, although it is pre-owned, we can confirm that the car was definitely brought in new through the official channels and all taxes were properly paid, giving the President a small oasis of respect in the vast desert of criticism that has surrounded his controversial decision. And for that, many feel that he deserves some credit especially considering the temptation for powerful people to buy through the gray market and get creative with the importation.

But while the President’s decision has drawn mixed reactions, the clear winner in all of this is the brand. Internet searches for “Noy’s Porsche” made it to the list of trending topics or most searched words of Yahoo Philippines and has drawn mainstream attention to an otherwise niche product, fueling rumors that the official dealer may have been the silent sponsor of the specialized driver training by a foreign certified driving instructor as a sign of gratitude.

While nobody is willing to put their hand up for the credit, The STAR was able to confirm that a German driving instructor was indeed flown in last December to give one-on-one expert driver training to President Aquino during his boxing day fun run on the Clark race track.

The Chief Executive went through intense braking and cornering exercises, including a slalom course and eventually full lapping sessions on the newly opened 4.2-kilometer high speed facility owned by Johnny Tan.

Joined by just two of his closest advisers and a handful of invited guests, our source who was there at the track described the President as an above average driver and a very quick learner.

“He was very cautious at first but showed great improvement as the day progressed. He is a natural,a seasoned member of the auto industry divulged during the exclusive conversation with The STAR.

While the debate continues to rage on whether or not the most powerful man in the country is entitled to own one of the most powerful cars in the world, it should be pointed out that aside from respecting the local automotive industry by buying a legitimate tax-paid model, road safety advocates feel that at least the President has shown responsible ownership by attending a certified driver training program and chosen to enjoy his new toy in a safe and controlled environment.

Palace defense

Malacañang yesterday chided critics of Aquino’s purchase of the Porsche who claim “bad timing” since the car was purchased much earlier, but it was only recently that the media highlighted the purchase.

Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it was not really a question of timing but of Aquino spending his own money to purchase the car.

Valte issued the statement in response to the observation of Bishop Deogracias Yniguez of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines that it was a “wrong timing” on the part of the President to have bought the sports car at this time.

“The President is not being remiss in his responsibilities, so that is why we are wondering why this issue came about in trying to relate it with the spate of calamities in our country,” Valte said in Filipino.

Valte defended Aquino’s purchase of the car, saying the family of former President Arroyo also owned a fleet of luxury cars but these didn’t invite any controversy.

“I think the Arroyos have several luxury cars and I don’t think we ever made it an issue,” Valte said.

It should have been an issue, according to Valte, if Aquino did not have any car at all when he assumed office in June 2010, but suddenly bought a sports car six months later.

“That would have been an issue if suddenly the President drives around in a sports car. But it’s not the case,” she said.

Sources revealed a high-ranking politician gave the President, his close friend and ally, an all-terrain Land Rover Defender last Christmas, but this was returned by Aquino.

The source pointed out as well that it was not fair for government detractors to compare the luxurious P1-million dinners that Arroyo and her entourage had in New York, which - just like the P4.5-million sports car - did not come from government coffers.

Aquino defended his purchase of the car, saying it was the best deal he got because it was a “third hand” 2007 white Porsche that had a less than 10,000 mileage. He said the car was bought from the proceeds of his BMW car that he finished amortizing last December.

Aquino reiterated his Porsche purchase had nothing to do with the austerity measures he is implementing on the government, even if he has been prudent in spending government funds, since be bought this with his personal money.

The 50-year-old bachelor said driving around is one way of relaxation. - With Delon Porcalla


Aquino criticized for buying luxury sportscar Agence France-Presse Posted at 01/13/2011 6:15 PM | Updated as of 01/13/2011 11:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - President Benigno Aquino III said Thursday he had splashed out on a luxury Porsche sportscar, sparking criticism in a country where a third of the population live on less than a dollar a day.

"It appeared to be out of character. He had campaigned against luxury cars and here he is buying a Porsche," Milo Tanchuling, secretary general of the activist group Freedom from Debt Coalition, told AFP.

"There is a danger that it will be viewed by many as a sign of extravagance and an unnecessary flaunting of wealth amid massive poverty."

Local press cited a recent Aquino order banning government units from buying luxury cars as service vehicles.

The 50-year-old bachelor said he sold his old BMW and took out a personal loan to buy the Porsche, which he said allowed him a relaxing drive amid his gargantuan responsibilities.

"I was happy with the deal because its mileage was less than 10,000 kilometers," Aquino said of the pre-owned vehicle, which local news reports said was a white entry-level model worth P4.5 million ($102,000).

Aquino's spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, defended his boss, saying the car's value had depreciated substantially compared with a brand-new Porsche.

"If it was not depreciated, the president wouldn't even buy it, wouldn't even consider it," Lacierda said.

Aquino won a landslide victory in the May election last year on an anti-corruption pledge of clean government and an end to wasteful spending that he said was the cause of widespread poverty.

Aquino has been known to take the wheel from his personal driver in the past during provincial trips, and once said he considered long drives on smooth highways as among the small luxuries he enjoys.

Lead by example

For his part, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, reminded Aquino that he should view himself as a model for other public officials.

"As the president, calling for austerity and asking people to tighten their belts, cutting the budget on various expenses, he should lead by example by not buying a luxury car which many couldn't even pronounce correctly,” he said in a statement.

Colmenares is the 9th poorest member in the previous House of Representatives with a P1.1 million net worth as reported last June 2010.

“Para sa isang katulad ko na nakatira sa isang maliit na one-bedroom apartment na katulad nito, nakakalula ang Porsche,” he said.

Aquino, last December 2010, issued Memorandum Circular No. 9 prohibiting any government agency from purchasing luxury vehicles.

Colmenares, however, admitted that Aquino, as an individual, can buy whatever he wants as long as he is not using public funds.

“It's his money, it's his right. Wala akong karapatang sabihin sa kanya kung anong bibilhin niya, kung anong hindi niya bibilhin as long as it's not public fund's, it's his money, it's his right. So I guess he can decide kung saan niya gagastusin ang kaniyang pera," said Colmenares.

‘Of bad taste’

The president also received negative comments from the public. Some of them voiced their criticism through radio and social media.

“Siyempre sa gitna ng kahirapan, kalamidad at milyon-milyon na ang nagugutom, hindi katalinuhan ang bumili ng ganito. Presidente pa naman siya,” Bernard of Mandaluyong texted to dzMM’s SRO radio show.

“Did it ever occur that spending on a Porsche, even if it's from his own fund at a time of calamity and spiraling prices, his decision is bad taste?” an unnamed texter said.

“Ang dami na ngang naghihirap afford pa nyang bumili ng luxury car. Parang awa naman sa mga naglulok sa kanya sa puwesto,” texted Enrique of San Fernando, Pampanga.

“’Yan pla wLang pera.. yan pala ung walang pangkampanya.. hahaha pakitang tao lng pla toh e.. banat ng banat kay gma xa dn pla..^_^,” posted James Santiago on Facebook.

But there are others who defended Aquino.

“The public should give the president a break for owning his Porsche, he bought it with his own money, unlike the others. Who they are?” texted Gerald of Makati.

“Puwede ba. Pagbigyan ang matandang binata. Di naman nangutang. Kanyang pera naman. Saan ang problema?” posted Delia Respicio Hernandez on Facebook.

“Ano naman masama kung bumili sya? unang una kaya naman niya bumili ng 3rd hand na sasakyan... hindi naman cguro tama na porke pangulo na natin siya wala na syang karapatan bumili ng gusto niya. Bumili sya ng gusto niya as long as sariling pera niya un gamit niya walang problema yan...” posted Richard Trasmonte.

Aquino: Don't judge my Porsche Posted at 01/13/2011 5:56 PM | Updated as of 01/14/2011 7:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is proud of his new toy, but he just does not want to “flaunt” it.

In an ambush interview, Aquino dismissed reports this recent purchase will affect his government’s austerity measures.

Aquino bought a "third-hand" 2007 Porsche using his own money, according to Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

He ditched his old BMW in exchange for the more attention-grabbing Porsche. He supposedly paid P4.5 million for it.

“Unang-una no, ang hindi ho nailagay doon, third-hand ho ‘yan. Pangalawa ho, hindi ho gobyerno ang nagbayad n’yan. Ibinenta ko po ‘yung isang sasakyan ko at nagkataon ho meron namang buyer at ‘yun po ang ginamit ko pambayad nitong sasakyan ko (It’s a third-hand car. I paid for it from my own pocket),” he said.

He did not reveal the make and model of his Porsche. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda earlier said it is a 2007 model.

Aquino proudly said the sports car has a mileage of only 10,000 kilometers.


The president jokingly said he may not be able to add to its mileage for the rest of his stint in Malacanang.

He just wants to use it in order to relax at times. “Kung maaliwalas naman po at nakaka-relax tayo paminsan-minsan, siguro naman po kapaki-pakinabang [Porsche] ‘pag gumagawa tayo ng desisyon (I want to relax sometimes, it could help me with my decisions),” he said.

He fears, however, that his critics may use this as an issue with his statements of assets and liabilities.

“Nag-bike ako para gumanda ang kalusugan ko. Wala naman po sigurong nag-o-object na paminsan-minsan ay ngingiti naman ako sa harap ng problemang iniwan sa akin at ginagawa ko sa kasalukuyan (I bike to be healthy. I hope no one will object that I be seen smiling at times despite the problems),” he said.

The 50-year old bachelor said he wants to use his reflexes while he still has the capability.

“Ano bang masama na habang may kakayahan pa po akong magmaneho ng ganoong klaseng sasakyan, dahil siguro naman pagbaba ko or in 10 years from now, iba na ang ating reflexes, so ganoon po ‘yun at hindi naman po ako siguro pupunta ng videogame para sumubok ng experiensyang ‘yon (What’s wrong with it? I just want to use my reflexes while I am still young. I will not be playing video games just so I could experience [the thrill]),” he added.

The country's first bachelor president is also a sharpshooter. He does target shooting as a hobby. He also enjoys playing billiards during his free time.

He has reportedly recently started biking as a new sport since his New Year resolutions include becoming fit. The president smokes a lot and prefers soda and steak during meals.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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