PAMPANGA, Philippines - This vote-rich province may be a stronghold of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but former President Joseph Estrada has one Macapagal in his stead - Arroyo’s half-sister, former Pampanga Vice-Governor Cielo Macapagal-Salgado.
Salgado, the eldest daughter of the late former President Diosdado Macapagal with his first wife, Purita de la Rosa, is the campaign manager of Estrada’s political party Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) in Pampanga. Clad in orange, Estrada’s campaign color, Salgado accompanied Estrada in his motorcade from Arayat to Mabalacat on Wednesday.
Salgado's decision to support Estrada is not new. In 1998, she supported Estrada's successful bid for the presidency, and in 2004, she also went for President Arroyo's main rival, the late movie star Fernando Poe Jr.
Arroyo’s elder half-sister (Salgado is 69, Arroyo, 62) told Newsbreak that she decided to support Estrada because she has known his family for so long, and that she and Estrada's late brother, actor George Estregan, were classmates.
She added that her sister "understands" that the two of them will always be on opposite sides of the political fence. Salgado went as far as urging her sister not to run as representative of the 2nd district of Pampanga in the May 10 elections.
Estrada said that they "are confident that we can sweep Pampanga because of Cielo...She is the original daughter of Pres. [Diosdado] Macapagal."
Salgado’s support didn't help Poe in Pampanga in 2004. Arroyo overwhelmingly won in her home province with 642,712 votes; Poe only got 84,720.
Although considered a bailiwick vote, there were reports that Arroyo's huge margin in the province was also due to the work of election operators. The big margins in Pampanga and Visayas provinces, plus the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) bloc vote, allowed Arroyo to beat Poe in the official count in 2004.
Although Salgado will back Estrada for president, she will not go for PMP’s bet for Pampanga governor, Filipinas Dayrit Cea Sampang. Sampang’s brother-in-law is former Pampanga Vice Gov. Art Sampang.
Salgado told Newsbreak that she will support Liberal Party contender Gov. Eduardo 'Among Ed' Panlilio instead. The Commission on Elections recently declared that Panlilio lost to former Pampanga board member Lilia Pineda in the 2007 local elections.
Aside from Sampang and Salgado, Estrada is also counting on the support of businessman Anthony Dee, the PMP vice-mayoralty candidate for Mabalacat.
Estrada’s rally was held in Dee’s school, Dee Hwa Liong College Foundation. Dee also provided vans for the PMP motorcade.
Going for Teodoro
While Estrada has Salgado’s backing, the Pampanga Mayors League (PML) has vowed to support the administration presidential candidate, Gilbert Teodoro.
Members of the PML include mayors from 18 towns in Pampanga.
The mayors who endorsed Teodoro as early as November 2009 are: Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda, Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo, Floridablanca Mayor Eduardo Guerrero, Porac Mayor Roger Santos, Guagua Mayor Ric Rivera, Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales, Magalang Mayor Romulo Pecson, Bacolor Mayor Buddy Dungca, Sta. Ana Mayor Rommel Concepcion, Arayat Mayor Chito Espino, Mexico Mayor Teddy Tumang, Macabebe Mayor Bobong Flores, Masantol Mayor Peter Flores, Sasmuan Mayor Leonardo Velasco, Apalit Mayor Jun Tetangco, San Simon Mayor Rodrigo Canlas, Sto. Tomas Mayor Lito Naguit, Minalin Mayor Edgardo Flores, Sta. Rita Mayor Yolly Pineda and San Luis Mayor Jayson Sagum.
In his campaign sortie on Wednesday, Estrada steered clear of Pampanga's second district, Arroyo’s bailiwick. He campaigned in Arayat (3rd district), Magalang, Mabalacat and Angeles City (1st district).
The crowds in these areas were considerably thinner than the hordes of people who cheered for Estrada in Nueva Ecija last week.