It was about the time of the last Sona that presidential-son Mikey Arroyo was quoted as saying there are a number of poseurs in the opposition faking criticism of his mother while actually courting her support. One of those alluded to has come out openly to deny it. Sen. Chiz Escudero has long had a hard time in shaking off the stigma because of his direct association with the financial oligarch suspected of fronting for the many deals of the First Couple. Still, he has more than once come out publicly to reject any such insinuations. But the same isn’t true for the other politician alluded to. Whenever asked about it, Sen. Manny Villar has only equivocated, bobbed, and weaved time and time again.
One interview with Villar on the subject from the Senate Web site follows:
Q: May binabanggit si Mikey Arroyo na meron daw presidential aspirant na bumabanat sa Nanay niya pero nagba-backchanneling through her allies para humingi ng support.
Villar: Mahirap naman akong mag-komenta doon dahil unang-una, sigurado namang hindi ako iyon kaya lang mahirap din namang magkomenta ako sa iba naming colleague. Hindi ko rin naman alam kung totoo iyon o hindi. Siguro hanapin n’yo na lang kung sino iyon.
Q: Hindi ninyo alam kung sino?
Villar: Hindi ko alam. Tatanungin ko rin kayo.
Q: Is it wrong to ask for support or endorsement?
Villar: Wala namang
Q: Hindi asset ang endorsement ni PGMA?
Villar: Mahirap magsabi ng ganyan kasi ayaw kong husgahan ang kapasyahan ng kung sino man iyon kung meron mang ganun.
Everyone, including Escudero, knows that Arroyo’s endorsement or any association with her is a “kiss of death” for any politician. That is why it was wise of him to go out on a limb to show the whole country that he would have nothing to do with Gloria whenever he’s pressed for a show of independence from Malacañang. Villar, however, isn’t even willing to do that, leading some to think that he’s just making sure not to jeopardize his cozy relations with Malacañang. Others, too, believe that he may already have received advanced funding from the Palace, given the huge campaign costs he has so far incurred, estimated at around P800 million for just his TV and radio spots alone. When you add the hefty sums he’s spent on dole-outs to hordes of local and provincial politicians, then you end up with an even more staggering amount!
Villar has been very easy with his money, if indeed these are all his. From the alleged manipulation of congressional budgetary allocations that favor his real estate projects, to the billions borrowed from government financial institutions that are later defaulted and bought back at huge discounts, to the unpaid debts and obligations for real estate properties bought or leased representing outstanding debts, what kind of a president will he be when he has to remain in power to stave off financial and political Armageddon?
The latest Pulse Asia results only reflect the immediacy of Villar’s “Akala mo conyo, iyon pala taga-Tondo” ads. Such gimmicks, however, are only ephemeral. True enough, the other side of the survey picture, which catapults Estrada to No. 1 in the latest SWS results, with Villar dropping to second place, paints a completely different picture as the latter was conducted without the contravening “Akala ko…” ads.
All candidates for the presidency who’ve advertised themselves have already peaked and have started to decline. The only one who’s still .01 percent away from declaring his run, who has paid for no ad of his own, is President Joseph Estrada. Instead, the only ad that features him, the one for Arthro, has Estrada as the recipient, not the spender, of advertising money. And, in spite of these circumstances, Estrada has risen from fourth to second and first rank with nary a sweat.
But, headlines such as the Inquirer’s “Estrada ordered slay, Mancao tells court,” along with the timing of the belated extraditions and testimonies, make it obvious that the administration will be using the Dacer-Corbito case as a bludgeon against Estrada (not Panfilo Lacson). Imagine that the Mancao testimony has been kept simmering for months on end, only to be timed for the rise in Estrada’s public approval, as well as, the unprovoked assault by Gloria-FVR hatchet man Gabriel Claudio of him “splitting” the opposition. By putting Estrada down at this time, aren’t these administration moves designed to help Villar?
Thus, Mikey’s insinuation of “double agents” in the opposition is plain wrong because one is actually a bona fide agent of Gloria Arroyo. This has become ever so blatant since the impeachment proceedings against Estrada were railroaded in 2000, laying the red carpet for Gloria to prance all the way to Malacañang. And with Malacañang’s silence, along with its help and support for all of Villar’s financial machinations, not to mention the seemingly “fortuitous” events abetted by the Palace for him, it seems the favor has been returned many times over. But what they all cannot buy, as the late Ramon Mitra and other trapos have found out, is the love of the people that makes someone their leader. And this, only Erap has.
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