by AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMANews.TV
02/17/2010 | 11:09 PM
—A local party pushing for the gubernatorial candidacy of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn ‘Jocjoc’ Bolante on Wednesday expressed support for the presidential and vice-presidential bids of Senators Manuel Villar Jr. and Loren Legarda, respectively.
Capiz mayors who are members of Ugyon Kita Capiz (Unite Capiz) also support the entire ticket of the Nacionalista Party (NP), Capiz councilor Monchit Acuna Alvar said during a press conference held at the house of Aklan Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo in this town.
Bolante, who was implicated in the fertilizer fund scam that the Senate began to investigate in 2006, will be running for Capiz governor under the Ugyon banner against incumbent reelectionist Governor Victor Tanco Sr., who is running under the LP banner.
Alvar, althought a third cousin of Liberal Party (LP) vice-presidential bet Manuel Roxas II, explained why the Ugyon party aligned itself with the NP slate.
“We believe in the ideals of Senator Villar and Senator Loren, that is why we are here supporting the Villar-Legarda tandem,” Alvar said.
Among the members of Ugyon are Roxas City Mayor Vicente Bermejo and Sapian Mayor Turic Orozco. They were among the 17 former members of LP who decided to form their own political party.
“We are more convinced that Senator Villar and Senator Loren can lead the country,” Alvar added.
When asked if NP will reciprocate the Ugyon’s support, Villar said the talks are at the level of the mayors only.
“Kami ay nakatanggap ng suporta at tinatanggap namin yan sa mga mayors. Hindi pa kami nagkakausap sa governor o sa congressman (We received support from the mayors and we acknowledge that. We have not talked yet with the governor or congressman),” the NP standard bearer said.
Villar insisted that he has not talked with Bolante, and that he is not even sure the former agriculture official will support him in the May polls.
“Sa ngayon ay masaya kami na meron kaming suporta ng mga mayor. Hindi pa namin alam kung sino-sino ang kumpletong susuporta sa amin (For now, we are glad that we have the mayors’ support. We don’t know yet the complete set of those who will support us),” he said.
“Hindi naman kami sumusuporta pa formally. But nakikita ko na eventually mag-uusap, yun lamang, hanggang dun lang muna tayo at hindi pa kami handang sabihin kung sino ang pinal na magkakasama at hindi din naman nila sinasabi, to be fair with them,” Villar added.
(We’re not yet supporting them formally. But I see that there will be talks eventually, only that we can’t say more than that, and we’re not yet ready to say who will finally be with whom, and they are not revealing this anyway, to be fair with them.)
He also clarified that Bolante is not a member of NP. However, when asked if he welcomes the idea that the mayors supporting him are also supporting Bolante, Villar said: “Desisyon na nila yun as to who they will vote for governor, kung sino ang gusto nila for senators, for president, desisyon nila yun (it’s their decision who they will vote for as governor, who they want for senator, for president, that’s their decision).”
For her part, Legarda asked the public not to link with NP “other candidates na ni anino nila hindi pa namin nakikita (whose very shadows we haven’t even seen).”
Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, one of the critics of Bolante and now NP guest senatorial candidate, said Villar was careful in acknowledging the support of the mayors who are also backing the candidacy of Bolante.
“The new party is essentially a united break-away action from the LP. Logically, it opted to back up the strongest rival of LP—the NP,” Ocampo said.
Bolante was implicated by the Senate in 2006 as deeply involved in the diversion of some P728 million in so-called fertilizer funds that were supposed to benefit poor farmers but went instead to local government officials and from there, many suspect, to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s campaign kitty in the 2004 presidential elections.
The former agriculture official fled to the US to avoid the Senate hearings on the fertilizer fund scam. Failing to get US asylum, however, he was deported back to the Philippines in October 2008 and placed by the Senate under hospital arrest.
He was never formally charged in court, however, and was even able to file his certificate of candidacy for the Capiz gubernatorial race. —JV, GMANews.TV