PNoy TAKES BREATHER FROM SORTIES TO FIX LEGARDA-CAYETANO IMBROGLIO

MANILA , MAY 10, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Michael Lim Ubac, TJ A. Burgonio - President Aquino has taken a breather from his busy campaign, shelving all but one previously scheduled appearance at sorties of the Team PNoy senatorial slate this week—the homestretch of the 90-day campaign.

Aquino no longer attended a rally in Tacloban City on Tuesday, giving himself enough time to repair perceived cracks in the administration coalition, besides nursing a cold and flu, the Inquirer learned.

The President, chairman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), has taken a hands-on approach to contain the fire stoked by a feud between the camps of reelectionist Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Loren Legarda.

Aquino issued a statement late Monday in which he made it clear that he was not letting go of Legarda, who has consistently topped surveys on senatorial preferences but has found herself at the receiving end of a vicious demolition job.

Reset, canceled

The President was supposed to campaign for his senatorial slate and local candidates in Tacloban City last Monday, but this had been reset for Tuesday.

But at press time on Tuesday, the Inquirer learned that Aquino was no longer attending the rally.

The advance party to Tacloban, composed of members of the Media Affairs Relations Office, Presidential Security Group and Presidential Management Staff, was on their way back to Malacañang on Tuesday.

No official reason was given by Palace officials for the President’s absence from the Tacloban rally that had been organized by An-Waray Rep. Bem Noel, who is running for mayor of Tacloban.

To make up for this, the Inquirer learned from a Palace official, who was not authorized to speak to reporters about the issue, that Aquino instead prepared a taped message of endorsement for Noel at the Palace on Tuesday.

Last rally

The President will preside over the rally of Team PNoy this Friday, when the whole slate is expected to come together for a “miting de avance” at Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City.

There was no word yet whether Legarda or Cayetano will be showing up at the last rally of the slate.

The attacks against Legarda through text messages, mainstream media and social media escalated on May 1, after a self-styled public-interest advocate called a press conference where he questioned the accurateness of Legarda’s financial disclosures.

Legarda called a news conference on the same day to say that all her properties—including an apartment in New York bought by her former husband—had been declared in her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) since 2007.

On May 6, Legarda was charged in the Office of the Ombudsman with five counts each of graft and nondeclaration of the property in the United States in her SALN from 2007 to 2012 as required by law.

She said the attacks on her were “all part of black propaganda” to dislodge her from the top spot in surveys, and that a fellow senatorial candidate was behind the latest attack on her.

Although she did not identify who it was, she said her detractor was a male reelectionist senator who spread wild rumors about Aquino’s mental health during the 2010 presidential election. Cayetano was the spokesman of Aquino’s presidential rival, Sen. Manuel Villar, in the 2010 elections.

Rest from campaign

According to the official, Aquino had been advised to take a rest after catching a cold last week. “Honestly, he’s more active in campaigning for his candidates compared with the senatorial candidates themselves,” said the official.

He did not respond when asked if Aquino had already spoken to Cayetano, but said: “Alan should stop (his attacks) since Boss had already spoken (on the issue).”

The official said the presidential election in 2016 could be behind the political mudslinging. The Inquirer tried but failed to contact Cayetano for his comment.

Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) spokesman, said the “incident” would not prevent the party from continuing with its “full support (for) and cooperation with the Liberal Party and the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III.”

Intervention

In his statement sent out to the media on Monday, Aquino said: “I am confident that she (Legarda) is not only prepared, but will do her utmost best, to answer any and all allegations raised against her.”

He underscored the values being shared by all members of Team PNoy—commitment to honesty, transparency and accountability in public service.

End-of-campaign intrigues

Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, LP president-on-leave, on Tuesday urged candidates of Team PNoy “to work together” even as he downplayed charges against Legarda as “end-of-campaign intrigues.”

“We urge them to work together. It’s six days to go before Election Day,” Roxas said by phone.

He said he had phoned Legarda to tell her that the party was “working for her” and advised her not to pay attention to the “last two-minute intrigues.”

Legarda, for her part, promised to continue being a “team player,” Roxas said. He said he did not call the other Team PNoy candidate, who Legarda insinuated was behind the black propaganda against her, because he or she was not identified.

“These are all veteran senators and politicians. They know that these intrigues ought not to be given credit,” he said.

Otherwise, “Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and the rest of Team PNoy candidates, on various occasions, promised to continue being team players,” he added. “All’s well.”

Hodgepodge

It’s not surprising that Team PNoy had shown cracks days before the vote, given some candidates’ presidential ambitions, political analyst Ramon Casiple said.

“It’s not surprising because it’s a hodgepodge of candidates. It’s not bound by any issue. The negotiations are between families. The reform agenda of Team PNoy is lip service more than anything else,” Casiple said by phone.

Besides, at this crucial stage of the campaign, survey front-runners would gun for No. 1, a good launching pad for the presidency and more important, a good position to negotiate with financiers, Casiple said. “Everyone for himself or herself.”

Aquino assembled Team PNoy from his own LP, once rival Nacionalista Party, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, NPC, Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban and Akbayan party-list group.

Obama’s consultants

Palace: Team PNoy solid despite Legarda vs Alan Cayetano By Michael Lim Ubac Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:15 am | Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Legarda, who ran for vice president in 2010 but lost, and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who backed out of the 2010 presidential race, have been seen as presidential contenders.

Of the front-runners, Cayetano is emerging as another personality to watch in the 2016 presidential elections, Casiple said. “He’s a new face among presidential contenders. He wants to portray himself as a rising contender. I heard he has consultants from Obama’s team. He’s really serious; he’s got high ambitions,” he said.

Palace: Team PNoy solid despite Legarda vs Alan Cayetano

By Michael Lim Ubac Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:15 am | Saturday, May 4th, 2013

3 896 42 Malacañang does not see cracks in Team PNoy despite an apparent feud between the camps of reelectionist Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Loren Legarda.

Team PNoy’s campaign manager, Sen. Franklin Drilon, on Friday said Legarda was not breaking away from the administration coalition as a result of that feud.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Friday brushed aside talk of a possible breakup of the administration coalition that—should it happen—could further jeopardize President Benigno Aquino III’s goal of a clean sweep of this month’s senatorial election by his team.

At a briefing in the Palace, Lacierda shot down rumors that Legarda was already dissatisfied with the Liberal Party-led administration team.

“We believe that Senator Legarda is a team player,” said Lacierda, when asked if Legarda was being vilified because she had been topping the preelection polls.

Legarda, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), has become the target of vicious attacks through text messages and the social media.

On Thursday, Louis Biraogo, a self-styled public interest advocate, called a press conference where he questioned the accurateness of Legarda’s financial disclosures.

Legarda called a news conference on the same day to say that all her properties—including an apartment in New York bought by her former husband—had been declared in her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) since 2007.

She said the attacks on her were “all part of black propaganda” to dislodge her from the top of the polls.

Legarda said a fellow senatorial candidate was behind the latest attack on her but did not identify who it was.

She said her detractor was a male reelectionist senator who spread wild rumors about President Aquino’s mental health during the 2010 presidential election.

“He is known in the media as ‘Boy Kuryente’ (bum steer),” she said, clearly referring to Cayetano, a member of Team PNoy whose 2010 allegation against Mr. Aquino was later proved untrue. Cayetano was the spokesperson of Mr. Aquino’s presidential rival, Sen. Manuel Villar, in the 2010 elections.

“I will not run away when confronted with any alleged anomaly because I am a faithful public servant. This is yet another black propaganda because I could not be dislodged from being number one,” she added.

Cayetano has been trailing Legarda for the top spot in the surveys.

Lacierda, when asked if the political mudslinging was a prelude to the 2016 polls, said he expected the question to crop up, but quickly added, “It’s too early to speculate.”

Historically, senators who topped the senatorial race preceding a presidential election eventually ran for either president or vice president.

Still committed

In a statement, Drilon said Legarda remained committed to the team.

“Senator Legarda has committed to me and to President PNoy that she remained a loyal team player of the Team PNoy senatorial slate and we are extremely grateful,” Drilon said.

Drilon sought to dismiss reports that Legarda adverted to the involvement of a member of the team in the attacks against her.

“In her press briefing on May 2, [Senator] Legarda deplored the continued black propaganda against her, but she accused no one and no political party in particular as being behind this demolition job,” Drilon said.

“The most that she revealed was the name of the source of media materials being circulated to opinion writers about the alleged noninclusion of her New York property in her SALN,” he said.

At her press conference, Legarda announced that the media was “authorized” to ask for a copy of her SALN from the Senate.

Waving a certification from SGV accounting firm and ACCRA law firm, the senator branded as a “lie” and a “smear campaign” the allegation of nondisclosure in her SALN of real property in the United States.

“The certification I have in my hand, prepared by my lawyers, is clear: The Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) I filed in June 30, 2007 includes the New York property subject of the black propaganda, described as ‘Other Investment’ in Annex A, in the amount of P7,175,000 equal to one-fourth of the total investment in the acquisition of apartment amounting to P28,700,000,” she said.

Beginning December 31, 2007 up to December 31, 2010, the same property was also included in the SALN described as “Equity in Real Property,” also one-fourth of the total P 28,700,000, she said.

“As of December 31, 2011 and December 31, 2012, the New York property was also included in my SALN described as “Real Property-USA,” she added.

‘Survivor’

She said it was “deplorable that people, possibly even some fellow candidates, could engage in such gutter politics, diverting people from the real issues.”

She did not name names.

“It’s political season and I have survived to answer clearly all the black propaganda hurled against me. I challenge the source of all this to come clean. I ask other candidates to stick to what we as candidates can do to address the problems facing the country, especially poverty,” Legarda.

She asked the media to likewise scrutinize the financial disclosures of other candidates, particularly all the incumbent senators.

“I am the author of the Freedom of Information Bill. Let’s not be waylaid by political mudslinging. The media are not for sale. Politics should not be run like a business. In front of my son (Lean), I swear that this certification of my lawyers from SGV and ACCRA is true,” she said.

“I was asked (by my lawyers) if even the minutest detail should be included (in the SALN). I told them, ‘Yes, I want them all declared because they are fruits of my work over 20 years in television,’” she said.

“The father of my children (two sons) is a wealthy man. Our marriage has been annulled, but that is a different story,” Legarda said. With a report from Norman Bordadora


 

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