In the News: JV says Villar most likely to bribe Erap

Estrada says rival trying to buy him out

February 23, 2010 18:34:00
Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer

IBAAN, Batangas, Philippines—Ousted President Joseph Estrada on Tuesday revealed that another presidential candidate was offering to reimburse his campaign expenses in exchange for his withdrawal from the May 10 presidential election.
Erap and Villar

Erap and Villar

Estrada declined to identify the candidate, but JV Bautista, one of his senatorial candidates, said Villar was the “most likely person to do that.”

“He is the most logical person to do it because the other political contenders, the other candidates, do not have that kind of money to offer to Erap,” Bautista told reporters during a campaign sortie here.

“Remember, Erap is no pushover in [terms of] financial capability. So if you are going to offer something to him, it must be very, very big, which only a billionaire—a billionaire businessman—can offer,” he added.
Estrada said an emissary of the presidential candidate had gone to his house in San Juan City on at least three occasions since about nine months ago. He said each visit, the most recent of which was two weeks ago, came with the offer for him not to run anymore.

Asked if he was insulted with the offer, Estrada replied: “Yes.”

Estrada recalled telling the emissary in Filipino: “I would never back down from any fight.”

Estrada said he surmised that the presidential contender either considered him a major “threat” or wanted to ensure victory by getting his support. He acknowledged that a text message had circulated in the past claiming that he was backing out and would instead support Villar’s presidential ambition.

Estrada said he would not have any face to show his running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, and members of his senatorial slate such as Juan Ponce Enrile and son Jinggoy Estrada, if he accepted the offer to withdraw.

“Why would I withdraw when the people themselves didn’t leave me while I was in jail? Now that I am free, will I leave them behind? That won’t be right. I’ll die first before I do such a thing,” said Estrada who was convicted then pardoned for plunder.

Estrada said he was reluctant to identify the presidential aspirant because the candidate could easily deny that such an offer had been made. “I don’t have any proof or document to reveal the details,” he said.

Shortly after a speech before some 200 supporters at Villa Marines Resort here, Estrada said the public should refrain from selling their votes. “If you sell your votes, it will return to you ten times after the elections with the absence of services and progress,” he said.

“Kunin nyo yung pera, ilagay sa bulsa, pero Estrada sa balota (Take the money, put it in your pocket, but write Estrada on the ballot),” he added.

In his own speech, senatorial candidate Bautista, made reference to Villar by saying in Filipino: “There is one candidate who is running with so much money. Will you accept the money? Yes, because times are hard. But will you vote for him? No.”

The Estrada campaign caravan blitzed through six towns in Batangas and Laguna. Estrada, Binay and members of their senatorial ticket campaigned in Batangas City, Ibaan, Lipa, before proceeding to Sta. Rosa, San Pedro and Biñan in the afternoon.

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