Villar-Arroyo alliance seen in Chavit’s defection from Lakas
Orange is the campaign color of presidential aspirant Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., who was also spotted in Pacquiao’s entourage. Pacquiao, who also used to be allied with the administration, is now under Villar’s Nacionalista Party (NP).
Last Saturday, Singson confirmed that he was backing Villar instead of administration standard-bearer Gilberto “Gibo" Teodoro Jr. (Lakas-Kampi-CMD). An ABS-CBN report quoted Singson as saying that he chose to support Villar because most Ilocos Sur leaders want him president.
On Sunday, Liberal Party (LP) campaign manager Florencio Abad said Singson’s abandonment of Teodoro only lent credence to allegations that Villar and President Arroyo have forged an alliance.
“The addition of Chavit Singson into the broadening ranks of Lakas-Kampi stalwarts supporting Villar is slowly but surely completing the Villarroyo [Villar-Arroyo] puzzle," Abad said in a text message to GMANews.TV.
LP is fielding Villar’s closest rival to the presidency, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III, as its standard-bearer.
Singson, who was instrumental in the downfall of the Estrada government in 2001, denied this. He said he had already cut ties with the party when he resigned as chairman of its Ilocos Sur chapter.
Better now than later
“Panira lang nila [LP] iyon. Ako, nag-resign na ako sa Lakas. Mas mabuti nang umalis ngayon habang maaga, kaysa pagkatapos pa ng eleksyon," Singson told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.
(The LP is just trying to malign us. I already resigned from Lakas, and it’s better to leave now than wait after the elections.)
Singson’s exposé against his friend, former President Joseph Estrada, sparked an impeachment complaint against the former leader, which eventually led to his ouster. A massive anti-corruption uprising installed then Vice President Arroyo to power.
In 2007, Singson ran for senator under the administration’s Team Unity ticket, but was unsuccessful. In September 2008, President Arroyo appointed him deputy national security adviser.
Singson also said he and Teodoro were not close. “I do not like him very much. We did not talk when he was still in the [Department of National Defense]," he said. Teodoro was a former DND secretary.
Last month, Singson hinted that he and other Ilocos Sur leaders were unsure of supporting Teodoro. The former governor said he and Teodoro may be party-mates, but it does not automatically translate to votes for the latter.
Malacañang, for its part, downplayed Chavit’s shift in allegiance, saying it is still confident that Teodoro would win in the May 10 polls. It also denied forging an alliance with Villar.
In an interview on government-owned Radyo ng Bayan (dzRB), deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said it was normal in Philippine elections for politicians to cross party-lines.
“It happens to everybody. People are coming and going… It’s like that in Philippine politics, especially during campaign season," he said.
Arroyo allies go for Villar
Singson, who is seeking to reclaim his previous post as Ilocos Sur governor, is the latest Arroyo ally to throw support for Villar. The others were Bukidnon Governor Jose Zubiri and former Cebu City Mayor Alvin Garcia.
Garcia belongs to Kusug, Cebu’s local opposition party. His relatives, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and father, Deputy House Speaker and Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia Sr., belong to One Cebu, the ruling party in the province that is backing Teodoro.
Abad said the unfolding scenario is a bi-polar presidential race “with Villar as the administration bet and Aquino carrying the opposition banner.
“This can only benefit a confused electorate as their choices are now more and more clearly limited to Aquino representing change and to Villar symbolizing the status quo," Abad said. - with Johanna Camille Sisante/KBK, GMANews.TV