POSTSCRIPT / May 10, 2007 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Unopposed, 267 mayors campaign all-out for TU

MAYORS AT WORK: The Genuine Opposition must be having nightmares seeing 267 town and city mayors running virtually unopposed across the country under the Team Unity banner.

Enjoying the luxury of sure victory, these 243 town mayors and 24 city mayors have dedicated the entire campaign period to amassing votes for Team Unity candidates.

In the entire country, only “Erap” Estrada’s hometown of San Juan seems to be safe from the onslaught of the well-oiled TU machine manned at the grassroots by local executives with hotlines to Malacañang.

Of the 81 governors, at least four — all TUs — are also running unopposed. They have all the time to campaign for the Administration ticket.

It also happens that when TU mayors and governors have competition, their rivals are often from other parties in the same coalition supporting the TU Senate slate.

This may explain the observation that while Metro Manila seems to be filled with oppositionist talk, there is widespread pro-administration sentiment in the countryside.

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BIG LEAP: This army of sure winners is campaigning for a TU landslide in all three regions: 53 towns and seven cities in Luzon, 73 towns and 12 cities in the Visayas, and 117 towns and five cities in Mindanao.

No wonder, Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone, TU media director, says the Administration has been making inroads in Southern Tagalog provinces and the Mindoros long regarded as opposition bailiwicks.

In Muntinlupa City, former broadcast executive and Philippine STAR columnist Ricardo “Dong” Puno is now the dominant congressional candidate.

Independent surveys have confirmed the big leap claimed by TU.

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AT LEAST SIX: A survey of 200 members of the Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association of Dasmariñas, Cavite, showed a 6-5-1 vote — six TU, five GO and one Independent senatorial bet in the Magic 12. The six were Angara, Arroyo, Recto, Zubiri, Sotto and Defensor.

In Naic, a similar survey of the TODA showed the same 6-5-1 results. Angara and Arroyo were the 1 st and 2 nd choices, followed by Recto, Sotto, Defensor and Zubiri.

At the public market in Tanauan, Batangas, 200 members of the vendors’ association were polled. The result was also 6 TU, 5 GO and 1 Independent. The TU candidates favored were Angara, Recto, Arroyo, Zubiri, Sotto and Aquino-Oreta.

The poll of 200 members of the TODA of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, showed 7 TUs, 4 GOs and 1 Independent. The TU winners were Recto, Defensor, Magsaysay, Pichay, Zubiri, Montano and Aquino-Oreta.

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OTHER SURVEYS: In Rizal, thought to be GO turf, 200 members of the Montalban town market vendors association were polled. The result was 7-5 in favor of TU. Angara and Arroyo were 1 st and 2 nd choices. In the Magic 12 were Sotto, Recto, Pichay, Defensor and Aquino-Oreta.

It was again 6-5-1 in favor TU in a survey of 200 members of the Lucena City TODA.

In Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, 200 members of the electric cooperative were polled. The result was 6-4-2 in favor of TU. The six were Angara, Aquino-Oreta, Arroyo, Zubiri, Kiram and Recto. At the town market, 200 members of the Samahang Manininda were polled and again six TUs were in the Magic 12: Angara, Zubiri, Arroyo, Recto, Aquino-Oreta and Sotto. Mike Defensor was 13th placer.

Asked on their senatorial choices, 200 members of the New Bilibid TODA in Muntinlupa chose 8 TUs, 3 GOs and 1 Independent. The eight were Arroyo, Sotto, Zubiri, Defensor, Angara, Pichay, Recto and Singson. A poll of 200 members of the Samahang Nanay ng Alabang resulted in a 6-4-2 vote also in favor of TU. The six were Angara, Arroyo, Recto, Montano, Pichay and Defensor.

In all the surveys, the Independent choice was Francis Pangilinan.

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JUNKING: Complicating matters for GO is the infighting. Villar and Legarda have been campaigning on their own and reportedly junking teammates. Francis Escudero has junked Pangilinan, an ally of Noynoy Aquino, in favor of Honasan.

Allan Cayetano has endorsed the three Kapatiran candidates while Lacson has endorsed his “mistahs” Honasan and Zosimo Paredes of Kapatiran. Lacson has also been accused of spreading black propaganda to cut down Legarda.

The bid of Noynoy Aquino, btw, got another boost Tuesday when the Comelec en banc ruled that all ballots with just “Aquino” written on them will go to him, not to his cousin Ted Aquino or his aunt Tessie Aquino-Oreta. His rating has been going up in the polls.

Villar is fighting on several fronts. He has one eye on keeping the Senate presidency and then running for president in 2010. So he has reportedly pulled all budgetary stops to land No 1 in the senatorial race at any cost.

One of Villar’s handicap is the widespread impression that he cannot be trusted. He is not known to have lasting loyalties, as he shifts from one new ally to another from whatever side of the fence whenever his political and business interests dictate it.

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JDV IN TROUBLE: Watch how Speaker Jose de Venecia squirms out of a disqualification case filed against him at the Commission on Elections office in Dagupan City. The same complaint was dismissed earlier by the Comelec legal department in Manila.

It is a tough case because De Venecia, running for reelection in the 4th district, was caught on TV distributing accident insurance while wooing voters at a rally. Lawyer Francisco F. Baraan III representing complainants said that was documented vote-buying.

Baraan assailed the Comelec legal department’s apparent bias when it threw out the complaint without evaluating its merits. “Sobrang lakas daw ni De Venecia sa Comelec,”  he quipped. “Bakit naman?”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 10, 2007)

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