MANILA, Philippines – With only 13 days left before Filipinos choose their next president, a supporter of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manuel Villar Jr. on Tuesday revived the mental health of Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet Benigno Aquino III as an issue in the elections.
At a press conference, former National Power Corp. (NPC) President Guido Delgado distributed copies of alleged 1979 psychiatric reports on Aquino, stressing these were not verified because “it is the media’s role to confirm its veracity.”
The report claims that Aquino, who was then only a 19-year-old student of Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), was found to be “suffering from depression and melancholia," due partly to his father Ninoy's incarceration under the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos.
The report was allegedly signed by Jaime Bulatao, a Jesuit priest, on August 9, 1979.
Previously, a bogus psychiatric report from the Ateneo psychology department on Aquino was circulated. It had factual errors, including the signatory, Fr. Carmelo “Tito” Caluag, who denied it as he was never a psychologist but a high school principal in the same school.
Fr. Bulatao, on the other hand, founded the psychology department and the central guidance bureau of AdMU in 1961. He was also the president of the Psychological Association of the Philippines from 1979 to 1981.
Delgado, who denied that he had anything to do with the release of the first report, said his co-volunteer in the Villar camp received the Bulatao-signed second report in a packet last weekend. It had no return address.
Delgado said he’s bringing the report out in public because of the seriousness of its contents.
In a campaign sortie in February, Aquino had used his experience of having a member of his family in jail to counter Villar’s popular ad on being poor.
"Nasubukan na ba ninyo na makulong ng Pasko at Bagong Taon para lang makapiling ang inyong mahal sa buhay na wala namang sala?" Aquino told supporters. It was an obvious twist from a line in one of Villar's ads: "Nagpasko ka na ba ng sa gitna ng kalsada?"
Aquino added: "Nakaranas na ba kayo na mag-iyakan ang inyong buong pamilya pagsapit ng Bagong Taon sa loob ng maliit na selda samantalang nagdidiwang at nagsasaya sa labas ang buong daigdig? Nakaranas na ba kayong maging kuya at tatay sa mga kapatid na babae sa murang edad ng inyong pagbibinata.” (Read: Villar spent X'mas on streets? Noynoy has own sob story)
Delgado, who was president of the NPC during the term of former President Fidel Ramos, said the psychiatric report, which was about private and confidential sessions,” is “for public consumption.”
Ironically, however, he stressed that “this election is so important that we must veer away from attack of personalities.”
Meantime, the Aquino camp dismissed the report.
Edwin Lacierda, spokesperson of Aquino's presidential campaign, told ANC’s Dateline, “I don’t think Noynoy (Aquino) will waste a single second to deny (the report).”
He said this was “a desperate black propaganda against Sen. Noynoy (Aquino).” He said the Villar camp is “hoping that the Filipino people are stupid."
Lacierda added, “they (Villar camp) will do everything within the next 2 weeks to throw as much dirt against Noynoy (Aquino) hoping that these will reduce our lead.”
Villar is trailing Aquino in pre-election surveys. In the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) pre-election survey conducted April 16 to 19, Aquino’s lead increased to 12 percentage points from just 9 points in March.
Villar has been hit by the Aquino camp for the veracity of the businessman-turned-politician’s claim of being extremely poor in his political ads.
A former lawyer in some of the real estate companies of Villar has also filed a labor suit, which detailed how his companies allegedly conducted business unethically. The former lawyer described alleged land-grabbing schemes in his labor suit.
Recently, the camp of former President Joseph Estrada, who is third in the surveys, has also released the minutes of a meeting of the Philippine Stock Exchange board in 2007. The document recorded the attendance of Villar in a board meeting where directors were making a decision on a listing hurdle faced by Villar’s real estate firm.