Moreno camp accuses Leni of ‘intellectual dishonesty’

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    SO much for unification talks.

    A former stalwart of the opposition Liberal Party has turned against Vice President Leni Robredo, saying she should be prepared to give way to Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso if her survey numbers will not beat the mayor’s in the run-up to the May 2022 national elections.

    Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said the mayor should also be willing to slide down as the opposition’s vice presidential bet if Robredo’s numbers will be higher than his.

    “I think there’s a chance of unification kung lalabas ang numbers (if the numbers come out). Dapat open si Mayor Isko, VP Leni kung ano yung picture ng numbers (Mayor Isko and VP Leni should be open to what the picture the numbers show),” Erice told ANC’s Headstart.

    Erice has left the LP and joined the Aksyon Demokratiko to support Moreno’s presidential bid. He was a staunch supporter of former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas who was the LP’s standard bearer in 2016, with Robredo as running mate.

    Robredo has not been faring well in surveys, compared to Moreno. She is the LP’s chairman but is running for president as an independent candidate.

    Robredo, before finally declaring her intention to join the presidential race last Thursday, has held a series of meetings with Moreno and other presidential aspirants Senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson in a bid to field a united opposition.

    Erice accused Robredo of being “intellectually dishonest.” He said Robredo made it appear she was trying to unify the opposition when she was really angling to run for president.

    “How can you unify when deep inside you, mayroon kang (you have a) desire or huwag nang desire (or let’s not say desire), maybe you’re entertaining the idea of running for President. It’s bordering on intellectual dishonesty,” he said.

    Former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, the LP’s vice president for internal affairs, slammed Erice. While not saying Erice’s name, he said a former LP member wants a “trapo” or traditional politics kind of leadership to prevail.

    “May mga tao na ang hanap ‘yung leadership na pang-trapo; ‘yung leadership ng makinarya at pera na magagamit para sa pansariling ambisyon (There are people who want a trapo leadership; a leadership fueled by machinery and money for one’s personal ambition,” Baguilat said in a statement.

    He stressed the need to “defeat a rotten kind of politics,” saying there is an urgent need for an honorable, efficient, and principled governance, which he said Robredo represents.

    Baguilat said the public saw the “tremendous and overwhelmingly positive” response to Robredo’s declaration last Thursday that she was joining the presidential race.

    “Yan ang totoong leadership (That’s true leadership); a leadership that inspires,” said Baguilat, one of the LP’s senatorial candidates next year.

    A Pulse Asia survey late last month showed Moreno was the leading presidential contender with 30 percent of the respondents backing him, followed by Duterte-Carpio with 29 percent; Pacquiao with 18 percent; and Lacson with 13 percent. In an earlier Pulse Asia survey conducted from September 6 to 11, Robredo placed sixth among 12 probable presidential candidates with an 8 percent support from respondents. The numbers, however, are expected to change now that presidential aspirants have already declared and filed their respective certificates of candidacy.

    Erice said not only the administration’s paid trolls are bashing Domagoso but also the troll army of his former “yellow” colleagues who are backing Robredo, who has shunned the color yellow in favor of pink.

    He said Robredo is to blame if the Marcoses return to power because one of the reasons she joined the presidential race is to try to stop former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. From winning the race even if her numbers were low.

    “Her percentage could take votes from the candidate who has the chance to beat the Marcoses, Dutertes,” he said in Filipino.

    Moreno earlier said the national elections should not be reduced to a battle between the Marcoses and the “yellows” led by the Aquino family, lambasting Robredo as a “fake leader with a fake color” after her supporters called for him to withdraw his candidacy.

    SUBSTITUTION

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the substitution of candidates after certificates of candidacy (COCs) have been filed is being abused by some political parties and it is time to amend the law allowing substitution.

    Sotto said said the election law provision “when a candidate withdraws” should be removed.

    Sotto, who is running for vice president in next year’s elections, did not mention any political party but the most recent and significant substitution of candidates happened in the 2016 elections when Martin Diño backed out of the presidential race to give way to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

    Duterte ran under the PDP-Laban party.

    The filing of COC for next year’s polls ended last October 8 but political parties are given until November 15 to make substitutions on their candidates.

    Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who filed his COC for president on the last day, has said he is willing to withdraw his candidacy if Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio runs for president under the PDP-Laban.

    Dela Rosa is the candidate of the PDP faction under Duterte and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

    The other faction is headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and Pacquiao.

    Pimentel said the intention of substitution of candidates is good but is abused by some.

    “The extension to file COCs up to Nov. 15 is a prerogative given to political parties as one of their advantage over independents. However, that period was given for serious contingencies (which may not have been foreseen or which though foreseen happened anyway) and was not meant to be part of strategies and tactics,” he said.

    He said if the substitution is “intentionally done” to field “fake candidates,” it is a form of abuse.

    “A fake candidate is necessarily a nuisance candidate,” he added.

    Deputy speaker Rufus Rodriguez said he would propose “an almost absolute ban on substitution of candidates by political parties.”

    Another amendment is the “restoration of the old rule requiring incumbent officials to resign or to be deemed automatically resigned upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy for other positions.”

    Meanwhile, deputy speaker Prospero Pichay denied having said that a certain Anna Capella Velasco and Lyle Fernando Uy who filed their COCs for president and vice president under Lakas-CMD are merely “placeholders” for Duterte-Carpio, although he has been quoted as saying that the filing was done just to save spots in case the party fields a serious tandem.

    Velasco is Lakas-CMD’s executive director while Uy is an regular member.

    “Wala kaming standard bearer (We don’t have a standard bearer). We will adopt a candidate but we don’t know yet until Nov. 15,” he told ABS-CBN, denying that Lakas is paving the way for Duterte-Carpio’s candidacy.

    Pichay said Sen. Bong Revilla is among the potential Lakas presidential candidates, along with Marcos who has filed his COC for president under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

    Interior Secretary Eduardo Año warned candidates in next year’s elections against paying permit-to-campaign fees to the communist New People’s Army, a government-designated terrorist organization.

    He said the extortion money will used by the communists to sow terrorism.

    Año directed all local government units (LGUs) and the PNP to ensure that all candidates can freely move, especially during the campaign period. He said they should also guarantee peace and order during the election period. – With Raymond Africa and Victor Reyes