Angara airs side on 'early campaigning'

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 11 2012 12:47 AM | Updated as of Aug 12 2012 08:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara yesterday justified his being with President Aquino in the Chief Executive’s visits to flooded areas and his distribution of relief goods to flood victims.

Administration critics accused some senatorial wannabes in next ’s elections of resorting to early campaigning by tagging along with Aquino.

“We didn’t think of that as early campaigning. We were asked to help and we didn’t think twice. Between helping and staying, I chose to help. Most would have done the same,” Angara said.

In his Central Luzon swing yesterday, Aquino brought along Angara, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) chief Joel Villanueva and former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros.

The three are eyeing slots in the administration’s senatorial ticket. They were also with the President in visits to some areas in Metro Manila.

In Muntinlupa, another senatorial wannabe, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, joined the presidential party. Biazon is a former Muntinlupa congressman. His father, former Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, won his congressional seat in 2010.

The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), however, said they are resorting to “cheap gimmicks.”

“These cheap gimmicks won’t boost these senatoriables’ chances of winning in the elections. Judging from reactions online, these are already backfiring on the President and his candidates,” KMU chair Elmer Labog said.

“President Aquino is obviously turning relief operations into campaign sorties for his senatoriables. People can easily see through this shameless use of government funds and exploitation of people’s miseries aimed at getting these people elected,” Labog said. Labog said the people need help and genuine solidarity during disasters, not pretty faces that look oh-so-eager to get their votes.

He said the President’s campaign sortie with the LP’s senatoriables only highlighted his poor performance amidst this national disaster.

Among the four senatorial hopefuls, only Angara made it to the top 12 in recent surveys of possible winners.

The administration slate will be a mix of candidates coming from ruling Liberal Party and various political groups allied with LP. For instance, the Aurora congressman belongs to the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP).

The ruling party is in the process of forging a coalition with the Nacionalista Party of Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), which is identified with San Miguel Corp. chairman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.

LP’s two large coalition partners are assured of two to three slots in the administration senatorial ticket.

Amid the sudden increase in the prices of basic commodities, another congressman, Joseph Victor Ejercito of San Juan, urged wholesalers and retailers not to take the opportunity to exploit the people, especially typhoon and flooding victims.

“I appeal to all distributors of basic commodities to refrain from using the calamity as an excuse to increase their retail and wholesale prices,” Ejercito said.

“They should moderate their profits. If normally they have a 30-50 percent mark-up, maybe they can reduce it to 10-20 percent and absorb whatever price adjustment producers will make as a result of increased production and transportation costs,” he said. – Mayen Jaymalin