(UPDATE) Lack of funds from Danding prompted Chiz to quit NPC?

by Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

Posted at Oct 28 2009 03:59 PM | Updated as of Oct 29 2009 09:53 AM

Chiz belies claim he left NPC since he only got P200-M commitment

MANILA - At the end of the day, it may be all about the money. Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero was counting on Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) founder billionaire Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. to fund his presidential bid in 2010, but the latter disappointed him.

"There may be a simple reason there. He [Escudero] has no funds. The party only committed to bankroll only a fraction of his campaign," a member of the NPC, who is privy to the party's plans, told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview when sought to comment on Escudero's decision to leave the party. (Read: Escudero leaves NPC)

Escudero supposedly needs at least P2 billion for his presidential bid, but Cojuangco, chairman and CEO of San Miguel Corp., only committed P200 million, according to the NPC member. This was confirmed by a separate source privy to Escudero's preparations.

Chiz's father, Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III, dismissed the claim as mere "speculation," however.

The NPC source said Senator Escudero was also counting on tobacco magnate Lucio Tan, but the businessman couldn't commit, too. Escudero previously admitted that Lucio Tan "helped a little" in his 2007 campaign.

"He was also relying on Lucio Tan, but he is financially in trouble also. Fortune Tobacco was slightly damaged [by Ondoy]," the NPC source said. The Fortune Tobacco factory is located in Marikina, which suffered severe flooding because of the tropical storm.

"Several weeks ago, we already knew the problems. Although the decision to leave was a bit unexpected," the NPC source said.

After three postponements, Escudero was supposed to finally announce his presidential bid on Wednesday. Instead, he surprised party mates when he announced that he had resigned from the party. He has yet to decide on his political plans in 2010.

Chiz belies funding was the problem

In an interview on ABS-CBN's TV Patrol Wednesday night, Escudero belied the report that he left NPC after he only got a P200-million commitment from Cojuangco for his presidential campaign.

"Wala rin katotohanan na may kaugnayan sa pondo dahil marunong akong mabuhay at mamuhay na simple. Pangalawa, hindi naman akin ano man meron siya [Danding] para angkinin ko. Nagpaalam ako ng maayos. Prinsipyo ang tanging dahilan," Escudero said in an interview by anchors Ted Failon and Karen Davila.

He also said that he only met with NPC chairman Faustino Dy Jr.--not the party’s chair emeritus Cojuangco--on Tuesday night to tell him he was leaving the party, adding that it has been a while since he last talked with Cojuangco.

Escudero said he has no bad feelings toward NPC officials and that their discussions went well.

"Nagpaalam ako sa pormal na istruktura ng partido, at gaya ng sabi ko, nagpaalam ako nang pormal, nagpaalam ako nang maayos. Walang masamang salita, walang masamang balitaktakan. Maayos ang aming usapan. Ito ay personal na pananaw ko. Sana maintindihan ako ng aking mga kapartido na hindi ko nakausap," he said.

Asked why he appeared to be changing his mind about running for the presidency, Escudero said there were realities he has to face and accept as a young politician.

"Tatanggapin ko rin ang realidad. Hindi ako haciendero, hindi ako heredero at malayo ako sa pagiging bilyonaryo. Nandoon po palagi ang pagnanais, subalit realidad palagi ang sasampal sa atin kaugnay ng katotohananan. Ngayon, bilang senador, bilang pangulo, bilang anumang tagapagsilbi sa interes ng sambayanan, ako'y nakahanda gawin ang anumang kinakailangan bilang ako, bilang si Chiz Escudero at hindi bilang ano pa man," he added.

He reiterated his appeal to give him time to decide and announce whether he would still seek the presidency.

Speculation?

Rep. Escudero likewise said his son and Danding could not have decided on campaign funding yet because Chiz has yet to announce his candidacy.

"It's more than a month before the [deadline for the] filing of certificate of candidacy. But you start campaigning on February 9. Ang pagkakandidato, hindi karera ng kabayo," he told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak when asked to verify the claim.

"Hakahaka yan. Ang pagkandidato, di palakihan ng pera. Noong tinanong ako, 'Saan kayo kukuha ng pera?', tumingin ako sa langit. Mas malaking gastos, mas malaking babawiin ng kandidato," he said.

Rep. Escudero said he will support his son, whatever his decision will be.

"Whatever my son decides to do--which, to his thinking, is for the best of the county--as father, I'm always supportive. Iba na talaga ang new generation. The generation in their 30s and 40s, iba na talaga ang diskarte. They are ready to take the risk, as long as they know what they are doing is right," he said.

Asked for comment on the lack of funding commitment from the NPC chair emeritus, NPC secretary-general Rizal 1st district Rep. Michael John 'Jack' Duavit said: "I know nothing of the sort."

NPC moves on

For his part, NPC spokesman Valenzuela City Rep. Rex Gatchalian said: "Let's not speculate...Basta kami, NPC is solid. We remain intact. It's a party to reckon with."

He said Escudero's move will not affect the party's active participation in next year's elections.

"Sen. Escudero’s decision (to leave) does not diminish the fact that we remain in a solid position to actively participate in the elections," Gatchalian said in a statement following the party's emergency meeting on Wednesday.

While they were surprised by Escudero's decision, the NPC will remain solid and united behind other aspirants who will run for different positions under the party’s banner in next year’s polls, he added.

Gatchalian said there will be more party consultations to decide their plans on the presidential race.

He said Senator Loren Legarda, who is running for vice president, will remain with the NPC.

"The party leadership wants to assure its members and supporters that we will remain intact, and every decision that it will make will benefit not only the party, but more importantly, [will be] for the good of the people," he said.

Legarda immediately called Danding's son, Pangasinan 5th district Rep. Mark Cojuangco, Wednesday morning to assure him that she'll stay with the NPC.

"Loren said that she will stay with the NPC and she is our vice presidential candidate as she has already previously announced," Cojuangco told House reporters. He was presiding over a House inquiry on Wednesday on the water releases of San Roque dam during a recent typhoon. - by Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak