MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar is using the fake report about Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's mental health as a means to arrest the slide in his survey ratings, a spokesman for the Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet said on Saturday.
“Manny Villar is desperately trying to salvage his declining numbers, this time using the fake report the Nacionalista Party black propagandists have concocted, spread all over the Internet, and leaked to the media," said Atty. Edwin Lacierda, spokesman of Aquino's presidential campaign, in a statement sent to news organizations.
Villar's ratings fell 4 percentage points in the March 21 to 28 Pulse Asia survey, allowing Aquino to widen his lead over his closest rival from 7 to 12 percentage points with only six weeks left in the race. (Read: Villar falls 4 points; Aquino, Erap, Gibo steady: Pulse Asia)
Lacierda said Villar's challenge to Aquino to refute the allegations in the fake document shows that he "cannot tell what is real and what is fake."
“By calling upon Sen. Noynoy Aquino to answer the fake report, Villar dignified it even as it has been debunked as a forgery by two independent sources—Fr Tito Caluag and the Psychology Department of Ateneo de Manila University. He further troubled Fr. Caluag—who is not a trained psychologist—by calling on him to clarify the content of the fake report just because someone pasted his signature on it. Furthermore, he urged ABS-CBN to forego its integrity as a news organization by revealing its sources—all this over a fake report that the Nacionalista Party fabricated," he said.
Lacierda also pointed out that "it has been confirmed by ABS-CBN that the Nacionalista Party is the source of this black propaganda." (Read: Statement in response to Nacionalista Party's challenge to ABS-CBN News)
In an interview over dzMM Saturday morning, Villar denied that the fake document came from the NP, and challenged Aquino to refute the allegations since voters have a right to know about the health of presidential candidates. (Read: Villar to Noynoy: Did you really consult a psychiatrist?)
“For example, did he really use marijuana? The allegations of major depressive disorder, is that true or not?” Villar said.
Lacierda urged Villar to "stop trying to compensate for the failure of his black propagandists," and to "stop pestering Sen. Aquino, ABS-CBN, Fr. [Carmelo] Caluag, and the Ateneo de Manila University."
“We would ask him to actually practice his spiel of promoting a clean campaign based on issues, but it has been apparent from the start that the only thing in his mind is victory at any cost and by any means whatsoever," he added.
Villar's 'I am poor' documents
Lacierda said Villar's approach to the fake Ateneo de Manila University psychology department report was the same as how he treated the documents that belied that he came from humble beginnings. (Watch: Aquino joins 'Villar is not poor' chorus)
“The same feeble logic was applied in his approach to the documents that came out questioning his claims to poverty, which he uses as the basis for his whole money-bloated campaign. In this case Sen. Villar did not answer directly and just reiterated his embellished autobiography and patched it up with conflicting details," he said.
“He never addressed the authenticity of the death certificate and the land title and merely focused on where they came from. Sen. Villar erroneously refers to these documents as black propaganda, even if as they were gathered by independent journalists and are confirmed certified public documents," Lacierda said. (Read: Villar demands apology from critics for saying he's not poor)
Noynoy is medically fit
In a press conference in Davao City on Friday, Aquino said he would not dignify the latest black propaganda against him.
"Then I'm practically saying that they had basis to do any of it," Aquino said, when asked if he was planning to issue a medical record to debunk the fake report.
The LP presidential bet also cautioned the media from using stories which do not have proper attribution.
"You need to have attribution. There has to be somebody responsible for what is being said," he said.
LP senatorial candidate Martin Bautista said in the same press conference that he can vouch for Aquino's mental and physical capacity to run for the presidency.
"I can tell you that Senator Aquino is medically fit," Bautista said.
LP guest senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros said the latest black propaganda is a sign of the NP's "gutter level" politics.
She said the fake document should not be given even the least attention.
ADMU, Caluag belie document
The document allegedly of the Ateneo de Manila University’s (ADMU) Department of Psychology surfaced on the Internet on Thursday. (Read: Noynoy, priest: Psych report fake)
According to the fake document, Aquino underwent a psychiatric evaluation in 1996 when he was about 36 years old.
The document said Aquino was assessed as suffering from major depressive disorder and was recommended to undergo therapy.
It added that Aquino has problems with his speech and in concentration due to tensions related to work and separation from his flight-attendant girlfriend.
The document also alleged that Aquino has a history of smoking marijuana.
The ADMU has denied the authenticity of the document. (Read: ADMU Psychology Department statement on Sen. Benigno Aquino III's supposed psychiatric evaluation)
Father Carmelo "Tito" Caluag, who supposedly signed the document, also denied the document. He said he has never worked under the ADMU psychology department. (Read: Statement of Fr. Tito Caluag)