MANILA, Philippines - Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar would go for Gilbert Teodoro if her husband, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar Jr., was not running in the May 10 elections.
"Maybe Gibo [because] he is better than the others," Mrs. Villar said when asked by ANC's Headstart host Karen Davila who she will vote for if her husband was not running for president.
Aside from her opinion that Teodoro was better than the others, Mrs. Villar said she likes Teodoro because the Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer is "campaigning in a more professional level."
Unlike other presidential contenders, Teodoro has remained silent on the controversies being faced by Villar. He has also been praised for his straightforward answers in presidential forums that he has attended.
Despite positive perceptions of Teodoro's capability to lead the country, voters' preference for him remained low in presidential surveys.
Teodoro got only 6% in the February 24-28 survey Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, which was led by Liberal Party's Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Villar, with former President Joseph Estrada at third place.
The former defense chief's voting preference in the February 21- 25 survey by Pulse Asia also remained low at 7%. The same survey was also led by Aquino followed by Villar and Estrada.
Villar is most capable
Mrs. Villar, meanwhile, said that a country like the Philippines, where most of the people are poor, needs a leader who knows "how it is to be poor."
She said her husband, who grew up a poor kid in the slums of Tondo district, knows how to get out of poverty.
"He (Villar) has affinity to the poor, which is important because the country is composed of 92 percent poor. A president should understand what it is to be poor and how to get out of poverty so he can help these people get out of poverty," Mrs. Villar said.
She added that among all the candidates, her husband is the most experienced, having been a former House Speaker and former Senate President. She also cited her husband's experience in the private sector as a successful businessman.
"He has experience both in the private and public sector. We need that experience for this country to move forward," she said.
The congresswoman said Villar decided to run for the presidency because he thinks the country can make use of his experience and capability to rise from poverty.
"He thought that it was an opportunity to serve the country. He thought he'll give it a try," she said.
She also said her husband would not take advantage of the presidency to gain more wealth, and disputed allegations that Villar used his position in government for his real estate empire.
Mrs. Villar, meanwhile, said that if her husband is elected to the presidency, their family is more than willing to divest their 60% shareholdings from their real estate company Vista Land.
"There is a law that provides that you have to divest and you have to follow the law," she said, adding that the family would have "to make everything legal" if Villar gets elected.