MANILA, Philippines - The Nacionalista Party (NP) denied Friday that it was the source of a fake psychiatric evaluation report of Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
In a statement, NP executive director Maria Victoria Loanzon said "The Nacionalista Party vehemently denies being the source of an alleged psychological report of Sen. Noynoy Aquino."
She reiterated that the NP does not advocate black propaganda and that the party believes "far more important issues that need to be attended to than resorting to black propaganda."
A "document" with the header of the Ateneo de Manila University’s (ADMU) Department of Psychology surfaced on social media networks on Thursday. It said Aquino underwent a psychiatric evaluation in 1996, when he was about 36 years old. (Click here to read the alleged Psychiatric Evaluation Form of Sen. Benigno Aquino III)
The fake document, supposedly signed by Fr. Carmelo "Tito" Caluag, was an assessment of how Aquino was suffering from major depressive disorder due to work-related issues and after separation from his flight attendant girlfriend.
ADMU’s psychology department has declared that the report is false since it has never conducted a psychiatric assessment on Aquino. Caluag has also stressed that he is not competent to make any kind of psychological assessment since he is an educator by training and a priest by vocation.
The LP has alleged that the report came from the NP camp.
Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda told abs-cbnnews.com that NP should stick to the issues instead of propagating a non-issue.
"This is not a legitimate issue. There is no mental incapacity issue. They couldn't hit Noynoy with anything else. This is pure black propaganda," Lacierda stressed.
The NP has also been complaining of repeated attacks against its standard-bearer, Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr.
The LP has questioned Villar's claims of being dirt-poor in his political ads. It released documents showing that Villar's cancer-stricken brother was brought to a mid-range hospital and did not die because Villar's family could not afford the cost of his treatment.
Villar has also admitted that the “Villaroyo” claim of the LP has affected his ratings in the latest presidential surveys.
Aquino and Villar have been the leading the surveys on presidential aspirants for the upcoming May elections. The latest Social Weather Station survey showed Aquino's lead over Villar has widened to 6 percentage points, while the latest Pulse Asia survey showed Villar sliding by 4 points, giving Aquino a 12 percentage-point advantage.
Stick to issues
NP senatorial bet and party spokesman Adel Tamano, in an interview over radio DZMM on Friday, said all aspirants for the May elections should stick to issues.
"We should start talking about issues and platforms only," Tamano said.
Nonetheless, he alleged that the fake psychiatric report on Aquino could have originated from the LP camp as a "negative news" to diffuse rumors that Aquino has mental problems.
"I honestly think the Liberal Party will be the one to benefit from it... By coming out with a document like this, it's like you're diffusing [the rumors] to weaken the claims, if ever there really is any truth that their candidate has a mental history. It actually benefits them," Tamano alleged.
He added that it was also ironic that the news of Aquino's alleged mental history came out the same day that the NP held a press conference lambasting the use of black propaganda in this elections.