Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jinggoy calls for probe into misuse of pork barrel funds allotted for farmers

MANILA, February 28, 2013-Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada is calling for a Senate inquiry to investigate reports that he and other lawmakers including Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile channeled their pork barrel to a bogus non government organization.
“I am calling for this thorough investigation to determine how our Priority Development Assistance Fund was able to benefit a non existing organization. We need to unmask those who benefited from this scheme,” Sen. Estrada said.
Meanwhile, Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Ma. Gracia M. Pulido Tan clarified that they are not investigating the lawmakers named in newspaper reports but the non-government organization involved in this mess.
Nevertheless, Estrada instructed his staff to work closely with the COA to clear his name.
“We’ll work with COA and we’ll open our books to get to the bottom of this,” Sen. Estrada said. “I won’t allow my office to be used as a conduit for debauchery, decadence, dishonesty and depravity.”
He also urged agriculture department to shed light on the operations of ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC)—a state-owned company that received a total of P206 million in pork barrel in several batches in 2009 and 2010.
“From news reports, ZREC – through the Department of Budget and Management as well as the Department of Agriculture – received about P106.7 million from my PDAF during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,” Sen. Estrada said.
ZREC then channeled the sum to the Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI), an NGO which was strongly endorsed by the agriculture department.
“At that time, lawmakers were informed by the agriculture department that this NGO is a legitimate organization and that our pork barrel will be used to benefit thousands of farmers,” Estrada said.
“Now that COA revealed in its report that this NGO is nonexistent, we need to ask the former agriculture secretary as well as the ZREC board on why they channeled the taxpayers’ money to this bogus organization,” Estrada said.
“If these personalities do not appear in our investigation, I would ask for their arrest.”
COA noted several irregularities on the ZREC deal.
In the COA executive summary, it reported that “Petronila A. Balmaceda, PFI’s President, had not coordinated with them (ZREC) to be able to settle the issues raised in audit. Likewise, the confirmation letter sent by the audit team through a registered mail on February 9, 2012 was returned to us for reason that PFI had already moved out on the address indicated.”
“Considering that PFI failed to comply with the audit recommendations and had not coordinated for almost two years now, it is high time that the Management pursue the filing of appropriate legal action against PFI.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Legarda: Well-being of Filipinos in Sabah Must Be Protected

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today stressed that as the government seeks to resolve the current situation in Sabah, it must ensure the protection of Filipinos there.

"We have Filipinos in Sabah in massive numbers. Their well-being should be one of our considerations in resolving this issue. We cannot be reckless to the point of endangering their well-being. At the end of the day, nobody wins," she said.

In resolving the issue, Legarda explained that "our foreign policy on disputed areas is clear -- what is ours is ours. For us to actively pursue this position, it is vital that we clearly define the scope and breadth of what is ours and the basis for such claims. Ownership is not defined by administrations but by legal and historical entitlements."

"The Philippines and Malaysia have strong ties. We need to leverage on these so that we may find a lasting solution to the ongoing situation in Sabah," Legarda concluded.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


MANILA, February 26, 2013-Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan joins President Benigno Aquino in appealing to Jamalul Kiram III to put an end to the standoff in Sabah.

"This standoff has reached a critical point where the Philippine government must now act decisively and do what is necessary to protect the general interest of the Filipino people," says Pangilinan, a peace advocate. "Kiram is essentially declaring war on Malaysia. He must understand that it has never been a policy of the Philippines to take on other countries by force. Regardless of Sulu's rightful claim to Sabah, an armed invasion will unlikely lead to an amicable resolution."

Pangilinan says that the Philippines' ties with Malaysia take precedence over contested claims. 

"This has come at a time when we are so close to achieving lasting peace with our brothers from the South. Malaysia has played a crucial role in brokering talks between the Philippine government and our Muslim brothers in Mindanao. We cannot afford to have a wedge between our country and Malaysia because of one person's whim."


MANILA, February 26, 2013-Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan today states that the latest results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey of the leading candidates for the 2013 midterm elections is highly indicative of the people's support for President Benigno Aquino III's continued push for good governance and economic stability. 

"Needless to say, we are very pleased with the results of the SWS survey," says Pangilinan, who was the campaign manager of the Liberal Party's senatorial slate in 2010. "It shows that the Aquino administration has been very credible in pushing for reforms, thanks to the very tangible changes happening today."

"We are particularly pleased with Bam Aquino's big jump in this survey," Pangilinan adds.

Pangilinan has been vocal for his "all-out support" for Bam Aquino, who with him co-founded the highly prestigious annual search for Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards, the premier recognition program for Filipino youth organizations. The young Aquino was also a Commissioner, then Chairman of the National Youth Commission when Pangilinan was then one of the youngest newly elected senators in 2001.

"Bam personifies the next generation of leaders. He is full of passion and is totally committed to bringing prosperity from the grassroots. He is a true agent of change. We need to have somebody like him to be in a position where he may be able to contribute greatly to the 'Daang Matuwid' of the Aquino administration."

Legarda Highlights Priorities for Next Term in CDO Sortie

MANILA, February 26, 2013-In her visit to Cagayan de Oro, Senator Loren Legarda, senatorial candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), discussed her priorities should she win another term in the Senate.

“Healthcare is number one. I will finish the Universal Healthcare Bill. I will make sure it is enacted into law and that it will be implemented for the 25 million poorest Filipinos,” said Legarda, principal author of the bill.

“Our aim is to ensure that no mother has to lose a child from sickness because she could not afford to bring her son or daughter to the hospital; no husband has to lose his wife from giving birth because she was not able to access healthcare services; no child has to lose an ailing parent due to lack of resources for hospitalization. Once we have the Universal Healthcare Law, all families can avail of Philhealth benefits even after many presidents and congresses have passed. This will be an important legacy to the Filipinos,” she stressed.

Another priority of the Senator is the expansion of scholarship programs for indigent but deserving college students.

“I will review the scholarship programs of our state universities and colleges (SUCs) and I want to expand the scholarship base to give focus on agriculture, science and technology, environment, and possibly disaster science, because those are the courses that our people would need,” Legarda said.

“We will make sure that the more than three million families that are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program will have at least one college graduate educated through a scholarship program,” she added.

The Senator also said she will continue to look after the welfare of senior citizens.

“We have worked hard for the passage of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act to ensure that our elderly Filipinos will be able to access the full twenty percent discount on medicines, food, services and other purchases. We have to look after the welfare of our senior citizens who have already shared their skills, talent and energy for meaningful work, programs and advocacies for the nation,” Legarda explained.

“Healthcare, education, and the general welfare of our citizens—these are my priorities. I am hopeful for a new term, which I will use for all the work that still needs to be done for our citizens and for our country,” Legarda concluded.

Cory magic seen in Team PNoy’s survey lead

MANILA, February 26, 2013-A day after the nation commemorated the 27th year of the EDSA People Power revolution, the so-called Cory Magic must be working all over again.

Thus declared Team PNoy campaign manager Sen. Franklin Drilon Tuesday/Feb. 26 in reaction to the latest Social Weather Stations-Business World survey showing an overwhelming 9 to 3 advantage for the administration coalition in the race for 12 Senate seats.

“It’s 1986 all over again. The SWS-Business World survey is an affirmation of the people’s support for the Liberal Party-led coalition and its platform of government anchored on clean government, inclusive growth, and peace and security all over the country,” Drilon said.

Cory Magic was the term attributed to former President Corazon Aquino, who was catapulted into power after the 1986 EDSA revolt and whose endorsement of the administration slate led to a near sweep of the 1987 senatorial elections.

Her son, Benigno Simeon Aquino III was believed to have been lifted to the presidency in 2010 by the same Cory Magic. The incumbent President is now endorsing the candidacies of the administration coalition candidates.

The Feb. 15-17 nationwide poll taken after campaigning officially began showed Team PNoy candidates occupying the first six places.

Reelectionist Sen. Loren Legarda is on top with 64 percent followed by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero 62 percent, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano 58 percent, Cynthia Villar 53 percent, and Grace Poe and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel tied for fifth and sixth with 48 percent each.

The opposition’s Nancy Binay was on seventh with 47 percent followed by Team PNoy’s Sen. Antonio Trillanes at eighth with 46 percent.

It’s a toss up between the administration’s Benigno Bam Aquino and United Nationalist Alliance’s JV Ejercito for ninth and 10th positions, both with 42 percent. Team PNoy’s Sonny Angara and UNA’s Juan Miguel Zubiri occupy the 11th and 12th places with 39 percent.  

Drilon pointed out that the respondents’ preference of the Team PNoy candidates manifests the political maturity of the Filipino people “that they are able to see the deep margin of difference between the Team PNoy coalition and the other political candidates.”

“This latest vote of confidence on the candidates personally handpicked by President Aquino himself also focuses attention on the great political tasks awaiting them once they are formally elected into office. The Team PNoy candidates will continue to vigorously uphold the clean government advocacy of the President, his desire to use his last remaining three years in office to decisively reduce poverty, to considerably improve social services such as equitable access to education and health, among others,” Drilon said.

Team PNoy spokesman Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo meanwhile expressed elation over the survey results, saying it’s a clear trend towards a Team PNoy victory in theMay 13 elections.

“What’s significant is that the Team PNoy candidates who are not in the Magic 12 are closely within striking distance.” Quimbo pointed out.

“The results are not at all surprising. It shows that PNoy's program of Tuwid na Daan continues to be relevant in the minds of the electorate and that the latter associates the program with the individuals selected by the President to be part of his team. It also validates that a campaign based on a clear message supported by track-record is preferred by the people,” he said. 

The poll results, he added, also shows the people's clear rejection of the opposition's campaign strategy to use personality attacks and smear campaign tactics against the administration.

“This should be a wake-up call for them to start talking about their alternative programs instead of just rehashing rumor mill fodder,” Quimbo said. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trillanes: Focus more on the character of the candidates

Reelectionist Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV is urging voters to be aware and discerning of the character and mettle of the candidates for the 2013 midterm polls to ensure that only deserving elective officials who can forward the country to national development are in the government.

“The power to choose our own leaders is given only once every three years – this is the essence of democracy. Kung kaya’t ito pong darating na halalan marami pong mambobola, maraming magaling magsalita, marami may black propaganda. Kaya kailangan magsusuri tayo ng maayos,” said Trillanes, who is running under the administration ticket Team PNoy.

Para masuri nating husto ang kanilang pagkatao, itanong natin: unang-una, sila ba ay may malasakit sa kapwa at bayan? Pangalawa, sila ba ay mapagkakatiwalaan na hindi mang-aabuso at mangungurakot? Pangatlo, sila ba ay kumakatawan sa inyong mga hinahangad para sa ating bayan? At higit sa lahat, sa panahon ng pang-aapi at pang-aabuso, maaasahan ba sila na tumayo at makipaglaban para sa inyong  karapatan? The advent of information technology and social media have given us voters the capacity to verify any claim made by any candidate. Thus, we must use this potential to our advantage and empowerment. We wield the information and we must translate this into our votes,” he said.

“Kung iyan po ang inyong mga batayan, makakasigurado po ako na wala na po kayong kandidatong pipiliin pa kung hindi ang mga kandidatong mula sa Team PNoy!” Trillanes added emphatically.

Trillanes has been one of the most productive senators with a total of 734 bills and resolutions filed during the 14th and 15th Congress, of which 30 have been passed into law. He also ranked second both in terms of the number of national bills sponsored in the plenary and number of committee hearings conducted.

Trillanes is currently the chair of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization, the Senate Committee on Amateur Sports Competitiveness, and the Senate Select Oversight Committee on Government Procurement.

Trillanes added: “I urge voters to be vigilant and make sure that they only elect leaders who have the ascendancy to promote good governance. Tapat dapat sa mga mahihirap at sa paglaban sa kurap.”


MANILA, February 25, 2013-Team PNoy campaign manager Sen. Franklin M. Drilon on Monday/Feb. 25 dismissed allegations by the opposition that he was eyeing the Senate presidency in the 16th Congress.

 “I will not dignify those statements because I am not a candidate” Drilon said. “They are barking up the wrong tree,” referring to the pronouncements made by the United Nationalist Alliance campaign manager Rep. Toby Tiangco that Team PNoy’s dream of a 12-0 sweep was anchored on Drilon’s bid for the Senate presidency.

“We are more focused on presenting Team PNoy as a team which fully supports President Aquino’s platform of good governance which in turn has resulted in an improved economy and better social and health services,” he said.

The Team PNoy campaign manager said the issue in this election “is not Drilon.”

“The issue is whether we are for good governance. If they say otherwise, it’s up to them as long as they spell my name correctly,” he added.

In Iloilo Thursday Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel introduced Drilon as “the next Senate President,” triggering a conspiracy theory speculation from the opposition.

“For all intents and purposes, it is the members of the 16th Congress who will choose the next Senate President.” Drilon said.

“These are the issues in the campaign and the senate presidency in the 16th Congress is a question that the senators will decide upon as an independent body, since the Senate has been known for its independence by law and by tradition,” Drilon said.

“By law, the 16th Congress will have a new set of officers, both the Senate and the House will elect its officers with the new Congress council, who believers of the House and the Senate will be is a matter for each House in chair,” he added.

“Let’s just move on and instruct what the people are looking for and what this campaign is all about. And this campaign for the Team PNOY is a campaign on good governance. It’s a platform that we should carry on, until the end of the elections,” he said. 

Legarda Denounces Killing of Ati Leader, Harassment of Environmentalist

MANILA, February 25, 2013-Senator Loren Legarda today denounced the killing of a tribal community leader and the harassment of an environmental group as she urged police authorities to be more proactive and aggressive in identifying and arresting the culprits.

Legarda likewise called for visible police protection for indigenous and environmental groups, particularly their leaders, that are presently fighting for their rights and those of their communities.

“These incidents are causing apprehension to marginalized and advocacy groups and may have bearing on their struggle and aspirations for a better life,” she said.

She added that police investigators should not only look for the perpetrators of the crimes but should dig deeper and determine their motives. The authorities would be able to prevent similar incidents in the future by being proactive, she said.

Legarda added: “Halatang pananakot ito sa mga indigenous communities at sa mga lumalaban sa paglapastangan ng ating kapaligiran.”

The Senator is especially concerned over the killing of the tribal community leader, being at the forefront in promoting and preserving the culture of  indigenous communities as Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities.

Legarda is likewise a leading environmental advocate, shepherding the passage of environmental laws and policies and pushing for initiatives to protect the environment.

News reports said Dexter Condez, community organizer of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO), was on his way home when he was shot with a 9-mm pistol in Sitio Lugutan, Barangay Manoc-Manoc in Boracay.

Before the killing, at least 20 armed men stormed the tribal group’s community and harassed the villagers, apparently in connection with the award to 40 families belonging to the BATO of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. Several businessmen have reportedly questioned the legality of the granting of the certificate to these families.

In another incident, several armed men barged into the home of Dr. Isidro Olan in Carmen, Surigao del Sur, tied him and other family members up and ransacked the place.

Olan, Founding President and Executive Director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation, has been vocal against mining and logging activities in the towns of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen, and Lanuza.

Legarda on People Power Anniversary: We Must Always Fight for Our Rights

Twenty-seven years after the historic People Power Revolution that brought back democracy in the Philippines, Senator Loren Legarda engaged Filipinos to continue to fight for human rights as they always have. 
“In 1986, millions of Filipinos joined a nonviolent revolution that awed even the world. We were able to regain our democracy through peaceful means. Today, we must continue to fight for our rights without trampling on the rights of others. We must support ways by which we can protect and uphold our democracy,” she said.
“We should promote the proliferation of a free market of ideas, thus we must protect our freedom of expression. We should encourage constructive criticism especially in public service so that leaders can effectively carry out their mandate, thus we must protect freedom of speech. We should ensure honesty, transparency and accountability of government officials, thus we must have the freedom of information,” Legarda stressed. 
Legarda, co-sponsor of the proposed People’s Ownership of Government Information (POGI) Act of 2012, explained that it is important for all government agencies to disclose information on public interest transactions, documents or records to erase doubts on the capability of the government to do its mandate of serving the best interests of the people.

“We must supply our people with information about the leaders they elected into office and of the businesses of government offices. This will certainly elevate the citizens’ trust and confidence in the government,” she said.
The Senator also stressed the value of freedom of speech and expression, which is why she proposed measures that would decriminalize libel and repeal the libel provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
“The reasonableness of adopting a policy to prevent cyberspace pollutants from spoiling the minds of our people must not be done at the expense of our valued right to free speech. We must eliminate a chilling effect that may impose undue boundaries on our people’s exercise of freedom of expression,” said Legarda.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


MANILA, February 24, 2013-Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to impose a moratorium on field trips in light of a bus accident in Tuba, Benguet which has since claimed the lives of several students and faculty members from Marinduque State College (MSC).

The 31 tourism students and two teachers from MSC, including two tour guides, were on the Baguio leg of a three-day Manila-Ilocos-Baguio educational tour, when their bus driver lost control and collided with two other vehicles.  

Seven fatalities have since been reported, with the remaining currently hospitalized at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center for critical injuries.

“Our prayers are with the families of those who figured in this tragic accident.” said Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Educations, Arts and Culture. “But this kind of field trip, though it may help domestic tourism, does not necessarily help the study of tourism.”

The veteran lawmaker said that such educational tours are often very expensive, costing an average of P5,000 to P10,000 per student.

He added that trips to hotels, restaurants and other hospitality institutions within the province or region of the school can still provide educational value to tourism students.  

“Field trips must be conducted without endangering the lives of students and imposing high financial burden on their families. I urge CHED to issue a moratorium until there is devised a more reasonable set of criteria for allowing such trips,” emphasized the former UP President. (Rikka Sotto)

Saturday, February 23, 2013


MANILA, February 23, 2013-Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored the need to bring Renewable Energy (RE) directly to consumers who need alternative sources of electricity: the fisherfolk, farmers and those living in distant areas still not connected to the national power grid.

During his keynote speech at the German-Philippine Policy Dialogue on Renewable Energy held last week, Angara explained that the government’s continuous support of RE is vital in helping these communities become self-sufficient.

Since the Renewable Energy Act was passed in 2008, which Angara authored and sponsored, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has received scores of project proposals for utilizing sustainable energy sources with very little carbon footprint. These proposals range from small and micro enterprises to big ventures that will produce significant amounts of electricity.

The emphasis now, said Angara, is on bringing production of these initiatives to the small scale developers by providing funding through loans and grants.

According to Angara, one way to support small farming and fishing communities is by providing them with electricity through RE projects that will help them with processing and preserving their crops. Lack of electricity in remote communities increase post-harvest loss and decrease profits, he explained.

“Rapid developments have lowered the costs of RE technology, which boosts the viability of widespread RE initiatives across the country. Continuous research and development from both the government and private institutions can lower these costs further so that small-scale projects can be undertaken by those in rural areas,” said Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

Moreover, firsthand use of this technology would make RE into a viable alternative to traditional power sources. “More people would learn to appreciate the value of RE in their day-to-day lives,” he said. (Rikka Sotto)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Team PNoy to opposition: Do not politicize Sabah issue

MANILA, February 22, 2013-Administration coalition Team PNoy said on Friday/Feb. 22 the Sabah issue should not be politicized and used to boost political stock.

Emphasizing that the Department of Foreign Affairs is now finding diplomatic solutions to the issue, Team PNoy spokesman and Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada described  pronouncements  made by opposition candidate ex-Sen. Ernesto Maceda claiming the  Philippine government has been neglecting the Sabah issue as  “pure fiction and a total fabrication.”

“We respectfully request Mr. Maceda to desist from trying to stir controversy for his personal political gains using the Sabah issue. He has alluded to the Philippine government’s neglect of the Sabah claim. This is pure fiction and a total fabrication,” Tañada said in a statement.

“Our hardworking diplomats at the Department of Foreign Affairs, together with their counterparts overseas, are exerting all efforts to arrive at a peaceful and long-lasting solution to this sensitive issue,” Tañada said.

“The President is continuing a policy begun by then-President Ramos, and continued by then-President Estrada, for whom Mr. Maceda worked as a member of the Cabinet. At the time, Mr. Maceda never questioned the policy of non-belligerence toward the Sabah issue,” Tanada said.

Earlier, in a press release issued 21 February 2013 by Vice President Binay on the Sabah issue, the Vice President said: “President Aquino is on top of the situation in Sabah. The Department Foreign Affairs is exerting all effort and using all diplomatic avenues to arrive at a peaceful resolution of the Sabah controversy. That is the President’s priority. Let us not second guess the President.”

“We urge Mr. Maceda once again to listen to VP Binay and respect the policy of the government, which is consistent with the policy of his party mate, the former President Estrada,” Tañada said. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Legarda Campaigns in Negros Occidental

MANILA, February 22, 2013-Facilitating discussions on disaster risk reduction and management tops Sen. Loren Legarda’s itinerary as she barnstorms Negros Occidental in Western Visayas on February 22-23.

Legarda said she will take advantage of her presence in the province to educate the people and local government units on how they could be resilient from disasters and be prepared when natural calamities strike.

“I will visit the province to conduct a meaningful campaign by helping educate communities on disaster-resilient development planning and to raise awareness on the need to be prepared,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change.

Even before the start of the campaign, Legarda has already been conducting disaster risk reduction (DRR) workshops in various provinces in the country.

The DRR roadshow will be held at the Carlos Hilado Memorial State College in Talisay City.

Legarda will also inaugurate a school building in Silay City, which she had funded through her Priority Development Assistance Fund.

Known heritage houses in Silay City did not escape Legarda’s interest as she is scheduled to visit the Balay Negrense, Jalandoni House, and Ramon Hofelena House.

Legarda Wants Implementation of MSME Law in Antique

MANILA, February 21, 2013-In her visit to the provinces of Panay, Senator Loren Legarda said she wants to ensure the implementation of Republic Act 9501 or the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Law in Panay Island, particularly in her home province, Antique.

Legarda, author of the said law, explained that a more vigorous promotion and implementation of the MSME Law will support the expansion of work and livelihood opportunities for Filipinos.

“MSMEs are powerful platforms for promotion of viable rural livelihoods, cultural preservation, socio-economic empowerment of indigenous peoples, and environmental protection,” she said.

“A handicrafts enterprise in Antique, piña cloth weaving center in Aklan, pottery center in Iloilo, and capiz shell handicrafts production in Capiz—these are a few of the MSMEs which prove that embracing our rich heritage and advancing sustainable development translate into jobs, incomes, and livelihoods,” she added.

“Antique, and the whole of Panay Island, is filled with cultural treasures. Weaving, eco-tourism and cultural tourism are industries fit for MSMEs promotion. There should be parallel efforts to support MSMEs through the implementation of the MSME Law and promote the cultural heritage and natural wonders of Panay,” Legarda stressed.

The MSME Law provides more assistance to entrepreneurs by requiring lending institutions to allocate at least eight percent (8%), an increase from the previous six percent (6%), of their total loan portfolio to micro and small businesses.

It also provides access to new technologies and regular entrepreneurship training programs for workers as well as a comprehensive development plan that would ensure the viability and growth of MSMEs in the country.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Madrigal’s lawyer says volunteers behind internet iPad promo

A lawyer for former Sen. Jamby Madrigal said Wednesday/Feb. 20 the senatorial candidate was prepared to apologize to the Commissions on Elections (Comelec) and to the Filipino voters if a promotional campaign run by her volunteers on the Internet was proven to have violated election laws.   
          Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Liberal Party-led Team PNoy commended the Comelec for doing its job in monitoring the conduct of the campaign of individual candidates and for promptly calling the attention of Madrigal on the matter.
          Madrigal’s lawyer, Ernesto Francisco, told a regular press briefing that the former senator “has no intentions of violating the election law” and that she “would be the last person to violate any elections law.”
          “Sen. Madrigal’s social media campaign is being run by young volunteers. When she heard about the incident, she immediately instructed her volunteers to immediately remove it,” Francisco said.
          Francisco said he was “not sure” whether the promo has violated any election law, noting that the social media landscape is “an unexplored terrain” when it comes to election campaign in the Philippines.
          “Sen. Madrigal apologizes to the Comelec for what the volunteers must have done. She wants to assure the Comelec and the public that such incident will not be repeated. From here on, she will make sure that her campaign team will follow the elections law,” Francisco said.
          “We are in the process of investigating what really happened. Maybe the ones running the social media campaign where the ones who thought of this scheme. We would like to know all details and where the iPad came from,” Francisco said. “This is like a political gimmick that comes out in any election,” he said.
          Former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, a spokesman for the Team PNoy, said there were initial reservations on whether the Comelec was “capable of monitoring” the campaign of the candidates.
          Saying that the allegations against Sen. Madrigal have “no effect” on their candidates, Tañada said the Comelec should be “commended for showing that it is trying its best” to monitor election campaigning.
“We have to encourage the Comelect to continue the monitoring of the campaigns of candidates. This is the way candidates are reminded of elections laws,” Tañada told the same press briefing.
“We, at Team PNoy, always remind our candidates that they should try their best to comply with the rules and election laws in the country. What should be done is to reach out to the ground troops that they should comply with elections laws, but there are instances that volunteers in different areas have different initiatives. We need to tell them that there are elections laws to be followed,” Tañada said.


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