Friday, March 30, 2007

Acosta sister faces off with ‘Hello Garci’

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Nelson Constantino and Ben Balce / March 30) - Bukidnon’s first district has become an interesting battleground between a virtual political neophyte and one with quite a reputation.

Ma. Lourdes “Malou” Acosta, the youngest daughter of former congresswoman and now the incumbent Manolo Fortich Mayor Socorro Acosta filed her certificate of candidacy under the Liberal Party (LP) Wednesday afternoon, shortly after her opponent, former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, was officially registered before the Provincial Comelec Office in Malaybalay City earlier in the day.

Her older brother and three-termer Rep. Nerius Acosta who is running for governor of the province would leave the seat vacant.

Relatively unknown despite the Acostas’ political stronghold in the province’s 1st District, Malou Acosta, at the University of the Philippines, was mobbed by both local and national media right after her certificate of candidacy was officially received by provincial election assistant Felicitas Adiong.

Asked for readiness, to slug it out with the man allegedly behind the controversial “Hello Garci” scandal, the young Acosta blurted out: “Ako’y handang handa na.”

Running for public office for the first time, she said she is aware of Garcillano’s reputation as the alleged architect of the so-called “Dagdag-Bawas” operations and other elections frauds in the past.

“I know what he’s capable of doing,” Acosta said, but quickly pointed out that the people’s vigilance would make it difficult for Garcillano to succeed.

Garcillano filed his candidacy as an independent, but many believe he is being backed by the Malacañang.

Garcillano launched his bid for the congressional seat of Bukidnon’s 1st District with much fanfare in Malaybaly City. In his motorcade were members of the famous Viva Hot Babes.

It was a show of force as some 50 vans and luxury vehicles lined up in a parade to the Comelec office in Malaybalay City. On the vehicles were placards with the markings: “We love Garci.”

Garcillano denied that Malacañang behind his candidacy.

“I am running on my own as an independent candidate and I am not supported by the president,” said Garcillano adding the President has not even called him since the Garci scandal broke out.
He said it was his right to run for public office and he did not need to ask the permission of anyone.

Cagayan de Oro Journal

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Administration bets increasing forward momentum


TEAM Unity is sustaining the forward momentum midway through the campaign season as the latest tracking polls indicate that five of its candidates are statistically in the Magic 12 list and four more are within striking distance of the winning circle.

Unity team candidates Kiram and Magsaysay.

According to Tourism Secretary and Team Unity Spokesman Ace Durano, who voiced optimism of a high probability that most, if not all, of the Team Unity bets will make it come May 14, said the results of the latest SWS poll show that "Team Unity is increasing its momentum as Election Day draws closer. The solid economic performance of the Arroyo administration and the formidable grassroots network supporting the slate nationwide are definite positive factors in this development."

The latest survey conducted by SWS last 15 – 18 March showed TU bets Ralph Recto, Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo and Tito Sotto landing in the winning circle. Mike Defensor, in 15th place, is also considered to be statistically in the winning column with the survey's margin of error.

Juan Miguel Zubiri, Vicente Magsaysay Jr., Cesar Montano and Prospero Pichay are within striking distance of the Top 12 list, according to the latest SWS poll, while the rankings of Tessie Aquino Oreta and Jamalul Kiram have gone up by one to three rungs.

Durano noted that other surveys show that Chavit Singson is on the winning list, such as the one conducted recently among the academics in Pangasinan, where 8 of the Team Unity bets were on the Magic 12, including the Ilocos Sur governor.

"A bigger surge is expected in the weeks ahead," Durano said as he expressed confidence that the administration candidates will be able to gain substantial ground against the opposition with the start on Friday (March 30) of the official campaign for local posts, which will likely be dominated by candidates belonging to the ruling coalition.

"We still have one-and-a-half months to go before Election Day. Rankings may variably change depending on the dynamics of the political situation, especially when the local candidates begin their campaign," Durano said. "We expect a sure and steady climb of all our candidates with the strength and cohesiveness of our local network."

He noted that the significant five percent jump in the satisfaction rating of President Arroyo, from 34 percent last November to 39 percent in February "will translate into immeasurable gains for Tam Unity's 12 administration candidates" whose "platform of government seeks to sustain and even accelerate the pace of economic growth—so that she can make good on her promise of social payback for the marginalized sector."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

MNLF consolidates for Misuari candidacy

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Ben Balce/March 27) — Over a hundred former leaders and members of the Moro National Liberation Front Saturday launched a National Unified Command under which all MNLF forces in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were placed.

"MNLF as strong as before." Hundreds of armed supporters of Misuari gather at Lanao camp.

The NUC said it is backing the Sulu gubernatorial bid of former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari.

"The MNLF soldiers always back Nur’s principles and leadership until now," said Alexander Marohombsar Lagawa, NUC commanding general and a close aide of Misuari.

Misuari, former ARMM governor, was allowed out of detention on March 20 to file his candidacy.

MNLF field commanders mounted a show of force during the NUC launching at the 3rd MNLF Mobile Army at Camp Jabal Nur in Madamba, Lanao del Sur.

"The NUC is not waging war against the government but on poverty and the need for meaningful and sustainable development for Mindanao," said Lagawa.

The MNLF’s armed regulars composed of hundreds of reformists and splinter groups converged at Camp Jabal Nur with their high-powered firearms, including .50 and .30 caliber machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

In a press conference attended by mediamen from Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, the MNLF commanders presented a manifesto demanding that government grant full liberty to Misuari.

"No person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations," Lagawa told MNLF leaders at the tightly secured Camp Jabal Nur, one of the group’s active camps in Mindanao.

"The MNLF is as strong as before," Lagawa also said.

Zainoding Dimalutang, NUC spokesman and deputy commander, said the Organization of Islamic Conference has asked government to free Misuari.

NUC spokesman and deputy commander Zainoding Dimalutang (left) exchanging words with Cagayan de Oro Journal editor Ben Balce (right) during NUC launching in Camp Jabal Nur in Lanao del Sur.

He said the MNLF, which signed a peace pact with government in 1996, was the first Moro organization to gain observer status in the OIC through the efforts of Misuari.

"As we renew our camaraderie and alliances, we also celebrate the continuing friendship of the MNLF with the stakeholders of Mindanao, with the government and media," Dimalutang also said.

Misuari was charged with rebellion for allegedly leading an MILF uprising in 2002. He fled to Malaysia but was arrested and repatriated.

Cagayan de Oro Journal

Monday, March 26, 2007

Team Unity 'cagers' play for a win

WEARING bright yellow uniform, three Team Unity senatorial bets – Vic Magsaysay, Ralph Recto and Sultan Jamalul Kiram -- take on the hardcourt of Libmanan Sports Complex in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, to play basketball during their campaign swing to Bicol and southern Tagalog provinces over the weekend. (Team Unity Photo Release)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

MNLF's unified command 'NUC' made public; Mindanao media men visit Camp Jabal Nur

NATIONAL UNIFIED COMMAND (NUC) of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as they strike a pose with mediamen from cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan after a press conference with NUC commanding general Alexander Marohombsar Lagawa and Zainoding Dimalutang, NUC deputy commander and spokesman, both Nur Misuari's close and loyal aides. The unification of forces was held Saturday at Camp Jabal Nur General Command in Cabasaran, Madamba, Lanao del Sur as calling for immediate implementation of Phase II of the GRP-MNLF peace talks signed in 1996. Also shown in photo is the Cagayan de Oro Journal editor Ben Balce (standing wearing black hat, 6th from left). (Abel Moya).