(Fifth of a series on ANC's Harapan presidential debates held December 2, 2009 at UST)
MANILA— Compared to other 2010 presidential aspirants, Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva’s economics background and an anti-corruption platform of governance may not be unique.
But when the aspirants were asked during ABS-CBN News Channel’s “Harapan” what they plan to do in their first 100 days in office if elected as president, Villanueva’s reply was one of a kind.
He said he would immediately issue a presidential proclamation thanking God for allowing a “miracle” to happen.
He was referring to the opportunity—a “first time in [Philippine] history”—of a head of state leading the country towards a moral path.
After all, the Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Church founder and leader, who is joining the presidential race for the second time, stressed that “no amount of sound economic policy can succeed without the corresponding moral and spiritual revolution program.”
The religious leader-turned-politician took all opportunities to swipe at President Arroyo, the incumbent, who also beat him in the 2004 polls.
When someone from the audience asked during Wednesday’s presidential debate what will make Villanueva step down from power aside from an impeachment move, he replied that he will resign if any member of his immediate family abuses power.
“Kapag mayroon nagawang pag-aabuso ang aking immediate family during my term if ever I become president, I will immediately resign because I want to prove to the Filipino people [the value of] delicadeza,” he stressed.
President Arroyo’s family members have been dragged into various scandals, including the ZTE-National Broadband Network deal, and issues raised against the overseas properties of her sons.
No to ‘Prime Minister Arroyo’
Villanueva said he would practice “principled politics” where moral and righteous ways will rule to fight corruption.
Under his rule, he promised that Filipinos would no longer experience corruption that haunts the Arroyo administration.
Should he win as president, and President Arroyo herself wins as second district representative of Pampanga, he said “I will use full power of the president” to stop her from becoming the House Speaker.
President Arroyo’s critics have assailed her decision to run for Congress for fear that this is part of a plan to change the Constitution to allow her to be Prime Minister, a position that would again grant her immunity from suit.
Arroyo, Ampatuans not above the law
Under his principled politics mantra, he said “No man should be above the law.”
If proven as criminals, President Arroyo and the Ampatuan clan, who figured in the recent Maguindanao massacre, will not be exempt from the rule of law.
If Villanueva were President right now, he said that he would order the defense secretary, the Armed Forces chief, and the Philippine National Police chief to arrest immediately the criminal masterminds of the Maguindanao massacre.
He believes that the Maguindanao massacre is a continuing crime, and, therefore, the Ampatuans do not need due process in order to be arrested.
“There is no need for due process,” he stressed.
If elected, he said that in his first 100 days as president, he will issue an executive order creating a “national commission for peace, development and progress.”
He believes that “without genuine peace, there can be no genuine development; without genuine development, there could be no progress, and, without genuine progress, there could be no genuine prosperity for our people.”