MANILA, Philippines — It will be, as some reporters put it, a battle of hairstyles.
Team PNoy has tapped Marikina Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo to be its campaign mouthpiece, pitting him against Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco of the United Nationalist Alliance, in a re-run of their opposite roles in the Corona impeachment trial.
Quimbo, he with the spiky hair, was the flamboyant spokesperson of the House prosecution panel. Tiangco, he with the salt and pepper hair, testified at the same trial as defense witness. And many could not help but compare their hairdos.
Where before they had not crossed swords, this time they may not avoid trading barbs, not only because both parties are fielding complete lineups, but also Team PNoy is gung-ho on drawing a “clear distinction’’ from UNA.
After all the mid-term elections are seen as a referendum on the leadership of President Aquino, and Team PNoy is gunning for a sweep. And so is UNA, which is headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and deposed President Joseph Estrada.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, Team PNoy campaign manager, confirmed the designation of Quimbo as the team’s campaign spokesperson.
“There’s an overriding call to ensure that the President’s gains are sustained until the very last day in office,’’ Quimbo said by phone. “It’s going to be challenging. You put yourself in the frontline, and they always love to shoot the messenger.’’
Of course, he’s used to this.
On the prospect of tangling, at least in the media, with Tiangco, Quimbo said he considered the UNA campaign manager and spokesperson a good friend, and that he planned to bring the debate to the level of issues.
“Personalities are not that important. My role is to elevate the discourse, to bring it to matters of accomplishment, principles and programs. We’ll avoid personal ad hominem attacks. It’s a different political spectrum. The challenge is raising the debate between the parties,’’ Quimbo said.
Hostilities began ahead of the campaign period that would officially start this Tuesday (Feb. 12), with President Aquino cautioning his party mates against “riders’’ and “pretenders’’ who would show up in yellow shirts without sharing his policy on good governance.
Team PNOY has also plucked another prosecution spokesperson, House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada, to speak for the Liberal Party during the campaign, along with Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, according to Drilon.
The third prosecution spokesperson, Quezon Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, is running for senator under Team PNOY.
After a three-month long trial last year, 20 senators, against three, voted to oust Corona for non-disclosure of assets, including dollar accounts, in violation of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said the “pretenders’’ and “riders’’ referred to by the President in a recent speech need not be identified.
“We don’t have to name names. I think the people know who they are,’’ Valte said over government-run dzRB. “It’s clear which is President Aquino’s slate, and which is the opposition. While they claim to be supportive, their support for key issues being pushed by the President is unclear.’’