Bro. Eddie aims for the presidency—again

By Lilita Balane, Newsbreak

Posted at Aug 22 2009 02:09 AM | Updated as of Aug 22 2009 10:10 AM

MANILA - After losing the 2004 presidential elections, Bro. Eddie Villanueva is back on track for the 2010 race. This time he said his bid is equipped with a new campaign strategy, party line-up, and more promises.

To thousands of supporters in yellow shirts and streamers with Villanueva’s name, he announced that he accepted the nomination of the Bangon Pilipinas Party through its chairman, Dr. Cielito Habito, to be its standard bearer to be “president of our country.”

During the Friday announcement at the historic Barasoian Church in Malolos, Bulacan, Villanueva’s slogans were “Kailan ang simula ng Pagbabago? Eddie Ngayon!” and “Sino and simula ng pagbabago? Eddie ako!”

The calls for change are reminiscent of United States President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign teaser, “Change we can believe in.”

Villanueva, who heads religious group Jesus Is Lord and the political party Bangon Pilipinas (Stand up, Philippines), told his audience that “moral leadership and competence” are what he stands for.

He stopped short of saying the current leadership lacks these. (Read: Profile of Brother Eddie C. Villanueva)

Party line-up

Unlike in 2004 when he run alone under the Bangon Pilipinas banner, Villanueva will tag along other aspirants to join his 2010 ticket.

He already presented 3 people who will be part of his senatorial slate: former Securities and Exchange Commission chair and losing 2001 senatorial candidate chair Perfecto Yasay, Jr., El Shaddai lay leader and lawyer Ramoncito Ocampo, and Seventh-Day Adventist’s Tom Meneses.

Last March, the Bangon party tried to unite various religious groups—Jesus Is Lord (JIL) movement (4 million members), El Shaddai (5 million) and Protestants, Adventists, and some Catholics (about 1 million)—under a Bangon Pilipinas, Bagong Pilipino movement.

With Villanueva’s Friday announcement, the unity efforts appear to have fizzled out.

On its own, Bangon Pilipinas is already scouting for local government officials to run under their ticket.

Villanueva said that some politicians, eyeing posts for the 2010 polls approach him wooing his support.

Campaign strategy

Villanueva said he delayed accepting Bangon’s offer to become the standard bearer since he was concerned about political machinery.

“Three years ago, Bangon Pilipinas was convincing me to run again. I told them, ‘Show me first a nationwide machinery, or just reasonable machinery down to the baranggay base.’ Two months ago, they showed it to me,” Villanueva narrated.

Bangon Pilipinas’ media officer Andrea Echavez said that they decided to have coordinators from the national level down to the baranggays. She said they will tap coordinators for each regions, provinces, towns, and baranggays.

Echavez said they plan to focus on vote-rich regions like Regions IV and the National Capital Region since limited campaign funds meant they could not cover the entire country.

When he run in 2004, Villanueva had no machinery from Bangon Pilipinas. The strategy then was the “Oplan Josiah,” which was supposed to work like a viral networking effort: 7,000 Christian church leaders recruiting 7 volunteers, who in turn recruits 7 more.

“Oplan Josiah,” which was inspired by the Bible character King Josiah who led his people in rebuilding God’s temple and campaigned against idolatry, was supposed to deliver 16.8 million votes for Villanueva in 2004 polls.

He ended up with just 1.99 million votes. He was at the bottom of the 5-way presidential race.

Villanueva’s 2004 strategy was not effective since it left out those outside the religious groups, campaign experts said. Even his belated 30-second campaign ad showing prominent singer Gary Valenciano and actress Connie Reyes failed to deliver votes.

Cheated

Villanueva claimed to be among those who were allegedly cheated in the 2004 elections, which gave President Gloria Arroyo another 6 years in power. Her victory was eventually smeared by allegations of massive cheating as documented by the “Hello Garci” scandal involving former Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

Though the current Comelec officials assure that the automated elections next year will be free of cheating, Villanueva doubts it.

“Automation could be good or bad. I doubt, but I hope that the people will be vigilant and will not allow cheating. And if there will be fraud, I will lead to object,” he said.

Programs

Villanueva said that he was offering the Filipinos a government with“7 Es”:

  • Empower the Filipinos
  • Emancipate the Filipinos
  • Educate the Filipinos
  • Elevate the standard of living
  • Energize the economy
  • Eradicate corruption
  • Establish peace in the land

Among the programs he highlighted is creating more state colleges and universities and increasing the education budget.

For energizing the economy, he promised to create economic growth centers in each province.

Moreover, he said his government will create a Truth Commission, where all pending cases of injustices and corruptions will be heard, and a National Peace Commission to resolve the conflict in Mindanao.