MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar Jr. on Thursday downplayed news that TV host Kris Aquino is actively campaigning for her brother, Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, in LP sorties.
Villar's wife, Las Piñas City Rep. Cynthia Villar, said Kris's presence in Aquino's campaign sorties will be an asset for the LP bet, whose lead in presidential surveys has been dipping.
She said that their camp can counter Kris's fame with their own assets.
"Every campaign has its assets and liabilities. I think she will be an asset, and we have many assets also. So it's fair," Mrs. Villar told Headstart's host Karen Davila.
The ABS-CBN talk show host joined her brother's campaign sorties in Zamboanga City for the first time after recent presidential surveys showed Aquino potentially losing votes.
"It would be hypocritical not to admit that we are worried but we're confident that we will be able to regain the big lead," Kris told reporters at the Zamboanga airport.
Kris said she took time off from a TV show after her sister, Pinky, asked her to join the Zamboanga City sortie to satisfy the persistent demand of the city's supporters for her presence.
Kris said she is scheduled to fly to Davao and Iloilo to join her brother's campaign rallies.
"If you will overwhelmingly vote for Noy, definitely I will return with Baby James. I will return with Noy and we'll meet again," she said before leaving the airport.
Mrs. Villar, meanwhile, denied that her family had spent close to a billion pesos for TV ads during the pre-campaign period. A Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism report earlier said Villar spent about P475.4 million on ads from November 2009 to January 2010.
"Sometimes it's registered, but it's not the price you [really] pay. There are discounts to that," she told ANC.
Asked if Villar has already reached the P1.2 billion mark in campaign spendings, the congresswoman flatly said "No."
Mrs. Villar said that she was "very surprised" that her husband was able to cut Aquino's double-digit lead in presidential surveys.
She said her husband's infomercials allowed him to present his platform and accomplishments. Villar is running on an anti-poverty agenda in his campaign for the presidency.
“He has an affinity to the poor, which is very important because our country is composed of 92% 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,” she said.
Won't abuse power
If Villar is elected president, she said her husband will not cling to power and will not take advantage of his position.
She said she and her husband have a long-standing agreement that if ever they are elected to a position, they will not take advantage of its perks.
“We have talked about it that when we get a position, we will not take advantage of the perks so that when we lose the position, all of them are temporary, we will not miss anything,” Mrs. Villar said.
She said Villar has been able to abide by the agreement despite being elected to the positions of House Speaker and Senate President.
“He doesn't love power. He can manage power. You will see that during his time as a Speaker and a Senate President, he did not exercise the power and privileges he is entitled to,” she said.