MANILA, Philippines - Former president Joseph Estrada on Tuesday branded as an "act of desperation" Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar's move to use his own mother to defend himself from allegations that he is corrupt.
Estrada, who is running for re-election under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino banner, said he purposely shielded his mother, Doña Mary Ejercito, from all negative reports about him during his impeachment trial in December 2000.
"It happened to me also during the impeachment. In fact, ang ginawa ko at ng mga kapatid ko,wag pakita sa mama ko yung tv. Kakaunti na lang panahon niya? Bakit ko sasaktan kalooban ng nanay ko? Bakit bibigyan ng sama ng loob," he said in a ANC "Headstart" interview.
He added: "In my opinion, it's a desperate move, parang desperado. Bakit pati magulang mo isasama mo? Dadagdagan mo pa ng sama ng loob yung magulang mo eh ang tanda na. Kasama na sa departure area."
Estrada's mother passed away at the age of 103 last January 13, 2009.
On Monday, Villar' 86-year-old mother, Curita, faced the media for the first time to defend her son from her critics.
Nanay Curing Villar, as she is fondly called, said she felt helpless after hearing reports that her son is being accused of being corrupt. "Umiiyak lang ako sa sama ng loob. Tutulo na lang bigla ang luha ko,” she said.
She said Villar is a good, honest man who wants nothing more than to serve the poor. Their own poverty fueled Villar’s passion to help the poor, she said.
Villar's sisters, Baby Villar-Benedicto and Vicky Devenagracia, also lashed out at ABS-CBN News and GMA 7 for allegedly being biased against the NP bet, whose ratings have dropped in the most recent surveys of Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations.
'Nothing personal vs Villar'
For his part, Estrada said he has nothing personal against Villar despite the latter's role in elevating the impeachment case against the then-president to the Senate. Villar was former Speaker of the House of Representatives during the impeachment of President Estrada.
Estrada said he has already forgiven Villar for the act but added that he had a duty to tell the people the truth about the former House Speaker and Senate President.
Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile have accused Villar of using his influence to pressure members of the Philippine Stock Exchange Board board so he can illegally profit from the public listing of his company's shares in 2007. Villar has denied the accusation.
"I don't have the intention of mudslinging any of my opponents but as a former president and as a citizen, I have to inform the public about what's really behind all these candidates," he said.
Estrada also branded former Securities and Exchange Commission Perfecto Yasay Jr. a liar for saying that Estrada ordered him to stop the investigation on the Best World Resources stock manipulation scandal. He said that instead of stopping the investigation, he actually told Yasay to expedite it.
Willing to lose
The former president, meanwhile, said he has made great gains in the presidential race as shown by recent pre-election surveys. He said his own survey showed that he has overtaken Villar for 2nd place and is only 10 percentage points behind frontrunner Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III of the Liberal Party.
During the interview, Estrada also said that he is willing to accept a loss from Aquino or Villar in the May 10 polls.
“Why not? Vox populi, vox dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Kaya nga galit ang Diyos sa atin,” he said, adding that the voice of the majority was not heard when he was illegally ousted during EDSA II.
Estrada declined to answer when asked who he would endorse if he had not decided to run for president. He confessed, however, that he admires Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats candidate Gilbet Teodoro for being articulate and intelligent and for his experiences as a former congressman and defense secretary.
He also said he has decided to change his campaign color to tangerine after a dispute with Villar over the use of the color orange for the campaign. Asked what was different between the colors tangerine and orange, he replied: "Different ang spelling." With reports from Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak; and Cherry Anne M. Mungcal, abs-cbnNEWS.com Halalan Volunteer