“Estrada was joined there by his vice presidential candidate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, and six of his nine senatorial candidates: Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo ‘Ompong’ Plaza, former Rep. Apolinario Lozada, businessman Joey de Venecia III and Sanlakas party-list Rep. JV Bautista.”
Last update: December 01 2009, 11:56 PM
Estrada, Villar, Villanueva file CoCs amid fanfare
Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 01, 2009
MANILA, Philippines—On the penultimate day of the filing of certificates of candidacy (CoCs), three leading presidential contenders—Sen. Manny Villar, former President Joseph Estrada and evangelist Eddie Villanueva—went to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) with their traveling circuses.
Amid so much noise and fanfare, Villar, his running mate Sen. Loren Legarda and seven of the nine senatorial candidates of the Nacionalista Party (NP) descended on the Comelec law department at 10 a.m. Monday to officially enter the contests.
Villar, in a bright orange shirt and gray pants, came with his wife Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar and their three children.
Legarda was in her trademark white shirt and pearls. She was surrounded by what commentators described as “strange bedfellows.”
They included marathoner Sen. Pia Cayetano, the late Philippine dictator’s namesake son and Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., lawyer Adel Tamano, former Labor Undersecretary Susan Ople, Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, Ramon Mitra V and Col. Ariel Querubin, who was on a furlough from detention for rebellion.
All the Villar people wore orange, the NP campaign color, except for Cayetano. She was first to arrive at 9 a.m. in a sporty pink outfit after bicycling from a mall in Pasay City with 100 supporters. She changed into a casual pink blouse, shiny gray leggings and pink slides before joining the group.
“This is the start of our dream to lift all Filipinos from poverty,” said Villar, the poor boy from the slum district of Tondo who became a billionaire real estate developer.
He chose to file his candidacy on Bonifacio Day, celebrating the peasant leader of the 1896 revolt against Spain. He said he, too, would wage a revolution, against poverty.
“Ours is the party that truly represents all sectors. Loren here is an advocate for the environment and women. We have supporters of OFWs, workers, soldiers, virtually all aspects, all important sectors are represented in our slate,” Villar said.
Around 1,000 supporters of Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino-United Opposition gathered first at the Liwasang Bonifacio for a Mass.
Estrada was joined there by his vice presidential candidate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, and six of his nine senatorial candidates: Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza, former Rep. Apolinario Lozada, businessman Joey de Venecia III and Sanlakas party-list Rep. JV Bautista.
The former President warned his supporters against selling their votes to big spenders who then would get their money back from the treasury if they won.
“To teach these politicians who spend billions—buying leaders and votes—a lesson, accept the money and put it in your pocket but write down the Filipino masses in the ballot,” said Estrada, wearing his usual orange-colored jacket.
Asked by reporters later if he was referring to Villar who has ostensibly spent millions on TV ads and who has said he is willing to spend his fortune to get to Malacañang, Estrada said he was referring to all candidates.
The movie-actor-turned politician likened himself to Bonifacio and, like Villar, chose the symbolic day to launch his reelection bid.
“Bonifacio was also born in Tondo. He was not able to finish his studies. I also was not able to finish my studies and I’m also for the masses,” Estrada said.
Revolt against oligarchy
Estrada said he would also launch a revolution against the ruling oligarchy, whom he blames for his ouster in 2001 midway through his six-year term on corruption charges. He was later convicted of plunder but was pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The group was proceeding to the Comelec with Estrada driving a jeepney behind a brass band when Estrada had an accident that caused a lump on his forehead. He apparently hit his head on the side mirror while getting off the vehicle plastered with the acronym of his successful presidential campaign in 1998 for jobs, economy, environment and peace.
Estrada had to put a bottle of cold water on the swelling above his right eye to keep it from ballooning. He was gently massaging the lump as he faced media cameras.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said the accident was a “bad omen.” He recalled that Richard Nixon had a knee accident while en route to a debate with John F. Kennedy during the 1960 US presidential election.
“He was distracted by the pain in his knee that he did not do well in the debate and eventually he lost the election to Kennedy,” said Pimentel, whose daughter Gwendolyn is in Villar’s Senate lineup.
Two hours later, the trigger-happy lawyer Oliver Lozano, true to his word, refiled a petition in the Comelec questioning Estrada’s candidacy. His earlier petition was thrown out for being premature.
“The Constitution provides no presidential reelection,” said Lozano, who also is a candidate for the No. 1 post in the land.
Asked about challenges to his candidacy earlier in the day, Estrada replied: “In my opinion, the rule of no reelection for any position applies to the incumbent president who has finished six years.”
Greater than before
Villanueva of the Jesus Is Lord Movement, who ran and lost the presidential race in 2004, said his chances of winning in the May election are greater than before.
Villanueva, in his yellow campaign shirt, filed his certificate under his Bangon Pilipinas party.
He was accompanied by supporters, family members and his vice presidential candidate, former Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Perfecto Yasay.
His senatorial lineup also filed their certificates, including Dr. Israel Virgines, broadcast journalists Kata Inocencio and Alex Tinsay, lawyer Ramoncito Ocampo, and Dr. Zafrullah Alonto.
In remarks to reporters after submitting his papers, Villanueva said he believed that the “time has come for the Philippines to be great again.”
“We believe that the time set by God and history has come for us to have real change,” said Villanueva, who received around 2 million votes in the five-way race in 2004.
He stressed that he and his party were better prepared to launch a national campaign, noting that he has built a network of volunteers and supporters nationwide.
“For the past two years, I have been secretly building and organizing the sleeping giant,” he said. “There is a great chance that the Filipino people will win in 2010,” he said.
A little known candidate for president also went to the Comelec at 8 a.m. without fanfare—Quiterio Castillo, 60, who put in his paper that he is an independent and is self-employed, like many of those other expected losers who had come before anonymously.
All told, as of Monday, the presidential aspirants number 55. With reports from Philip C. Tubeza, Kristine L. Alave, Cathy C. Yamsuan, Michael Lim Ubac, Christine O. Avendaño and Jerome Aning
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