MANILA, Philippines - Nacionalista Party (NP) vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda on Sunday challenged all those who are running for the 2 highest positions in the country to undergo physical, psychological and emotional tests.
According to Legarda, tests like these will help determine if a candidate is emotionally ready to take on the important task of serving the country.
"Napakaraming mga hindi alam ng taong bayan na problema ng ibang kandidato bago nila iboto (People don't know a lot of things about our candidates and their problems). So I think it's just right that people become transparent about their physical and mental health as well as legal cases filed against them," Legarda told ABS-CBN News.
Legarda made the statement following the release of a fake document, supposedly signed by Fr. Carmelo "Tito" Caluag, that said Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III suffered from clinical depression in the mid-1990s. The document, which was forwarded to ABS-CBN by sources from the Nacionalista Party, alleged that Aquino has a history of smoking, drinking and the use of marijuana.
The Ateneo de Manila University’s (ADMU) Department of Psychology, which allegedly issued the evaluation, has already debunked the report.
“The document is false; no faculty member or other professional affiliated with the Psychology Department has ever conducted a psychiatric assessment of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.,” the department said. (Read: ADMU psychology department statement)
Caluag has also branded the report as bogus, saying that he has "never been connected" Ateneo's psychology department. The NP has denied issuing the fake report and challenged ABS-CBN to reveal its sources.
The Liberal Party, meanwhile, refused Legarda's challenge.
Edwin Lacierda, spokesperson for Aquino's presidential campaign, said the challenge is part of NP's strategy to boost Legarda's ratings in the vice-presidential race.
"They're challenging us for the psychiatric report. That's part of their strategy. Why would we go with their script? Senator Legarda's riding on this issue because her numbers in the surveys are slipping after her debate with Mar Roxas at Harapan," he said.
In an online poll during ABS-CBN's "Harapan: The Vice Presidential Debate" held last month, Legarda got the lowest score of 4%. In the said poll, viewers were asked to gauge the "truthfulness" of the answers of the vice presidential bets.
LP is planning to file charges against the NP for allegedly spreading copies of the fake document.
NP standard bearer Manuel "Manny" Villar, however, made it clear that they are not guilty of the said accusations. "Kung anuman ang gusto nilang gawin ay gawin nila. Kami naman din ay marami rin sanang gustong i-file na charges sa kanila. Alam mo kapag nagpapakita ng charges parang desperado ka na eh," he said.
Unlike the LP, candidates from other political parties did not object to parts of Legarda's suggestion.
Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats standard-bearer Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino presidential bet Joseph "Erap" Estrada said they are willing to undergo physical exams.
Both, however, said looking into a person's mental state is a "sensitive issue" that should only be kept between a doctor and the patient.
"My wife is a psychiatrist. I don't need that," Estrada said.
For his part, Bangon Pilipinas standard bearer Bro. Eddie Villanueva said all candidates must go through not only physical and psychological tests, but lie detector tests as well. These, he said, will help determine the truth behind a candidate's intentions for public office. -- Report from Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News