Heart to heart: Let’s focus on affairs of state

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THE HEARTTHROB Re-electionist Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero pleads with the electorate to remember what he’s known for before Heart Evangelista. EDWIN BACASMAS

He has been reluctantly thrust into the show biz limelight owing to an affair of the heart.

But with just a month left before the midterm polls, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero is hoping to train the electorate’s eyes back to the affairs of the state—a turf where he hopes to remain in the next six years and even beyond.

“As best as we can, we’re trying to address the [political] issues as well until this fades away so we can focus our eyes on the ball again—that is, on the issues,” said the 43-year-old legislator, now tangled in the web of a complicated relationship with actress-girlfriend Heart Evangelista.

Much has been written about the controversy involving Escudero and Evangelista, with the latter’s parents against her relationship with the separated senator and father of 5-year-old twins.

 

Rediscovering Chiz

Escudero hopes the public would rediscover what he became known for in the first place: a key opposition leader who fought the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a lawyer and lawmaker who pushed legislation to protect human rights and now, a reelectionist who wants to continue a campaign for clean governance.

Escudero is running as an independent—he left his longtime party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, just months ahead of the 2010 presidential elections—but has been “adopted” by President Aquino in the administration coalition’s Team PNoy for the May polls. The President has been his close friend even back when they were still members of the House of Representatives.

He was also adopted by the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, whose bid for the country’s second top post he supported in 2010.

Focus on track record

But the UNA dropped him, along with Sen. Loren Legarda and Grace Poe in February, saying the three failed to fulfill commitments to the coalition. Escudero, who learned of the abandonment only through media, said he never committed to any UNA appearance and was never formally invited when the coalition was still in the works.

He has not spoken to any of UNA’s leaders since, including Binay.

Still, Escudero is holding his own, consistently topping surveys on people’s choices for the 2013 Senate.

As voters decide on their ballot, Escudero hopes that people would focus on his “track record—what I’ve done, what I have not done, what I’ve said, what I did not say and my qualifications and achievements.”

Personal life separate

“Because at the end of the day, I made sure of the fact that I separated my personal life from my political life and my job,” Escudero said.

For one, he said, he promised to never allow his girlfriend to campaign for him.

“Early on, I already announced [that] Heart will not join me in any campaign sortie or rally and she will not campaign for me. She will not appear in any ad and I have stood pat on that. Can you imagine if I did that and this [controversy] came out?” said Escudero.

“But when people look for Heart, I tell them, ‘I didn’t bring her along because you will only pay attention to her, not me,’” the senator said in jest.

Evangelista’s parents recently demanded an apology from the senator, whom they accused of being disrespectful and arrogant, and for “manipulating” their daughter into “going against her family.” Rey and Cecile Ongpauco also appealed to Escudero to “leave our daughter alone.”

“Of course I am [distracted]. Tao lang ako (I’m only human). I get affected, especially when I cannot respond,” said the senator in a recent interview with Inquirer editors and reporters.

Sense of humor

He was visibly leaner but the busy campaign schedule and the current controversy on his personal affairs have not robbed Escudero of his sense of humor.

“Di naman ako bato. Hindi applicable sa akin ’yung kantang ‘Pusong Bato’ (I am not hard as stone. The song ‘Heart of Stone’ does not apply to me),” the senator said, laughing, as he made reference to the popular Filipino karaoke pick that spoke of a broken heart.

“I thought forbidden love is only seen on TV or in the movies. I thought that a rich girl falling in love with a not-so-rich boy is only the subject of teleseryes. I guess I thought wrong,” he said.

It started with Miriam

Escudero said it was not his decision to make public his relationship with the 28-year-old actress but people “have a funny way of wanting to know certain things.”

“As a public official, we are obliged to answer to a certain degree, without violating the privacy of other people associated with the issue who are not public figures,” said the young legislator.

Escudero said he was introduced to Evangelista by a common friend, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in April 2012. They were officially a couple “sometime in July.”

Because of Evangelista, the senator said he would “smile more often. I also know the latest news in show biz, like who dated whom or who broke up with whom.”

Escudero said he found it too difficult to answer point-by-point the allegations that the Ongpaucos made during their press conference on March 19.

 

‘It’s hard to answer back’

During the press conference, Evangelista’s mother, Cecile, raised the issue of Escudero being an “alcoholic.” Cecile also claimed the senator “seduced” Evangelista into thinking he would become the President by 2016 and she, the first lady. Cecile also said the family found Escudero’s relationship with their daughter “unacceptable” because of the senator’s inability to give their daughter a church wedding. Escudero’s first marriage to singer Christine Flores was annulled by the court last year.

“This is not just a case of a fellow senator criticizing my work. I could easily answer back. For this, I need to stop myself from talking because, hopefully, in the end, I’d still get to see them when they’ve already patched things up with their daughter,” he said.

“I’m still weighing things out. Remember, I wasn’t the one who named someone as lasenggo, bastos and walang modo,” he pointed out. “It’s hard to answer back. I’m trying my best not to say anything for the meantime. Heart and I were caught by surprise by what was said at the press conference.”

The senator then refused to go on record to answer Ongpauco’s claim that he’s an alcoholic. “I’m in an awkward position. Suffice it to say that everything they said, everything they’re doing now, is just because they want us to break up. They admitted this themselves during their press conference.”

Escudero added: “You see, I also have children—I love them—but this doesn’t give me the license to say bad things about them. When they grow up and eventually do something to displease me, I’d talk to them privately. I will not set up a press conference.”

Escudero said Evangelista was “devastated” by the controversy but “she’s getting better now.”

Anticorruption advocacy

Escudero said he hopes to pursue an anticorruption advocacy if reelected for another six years, toeing the tuwid na daan (straight path) line the Aquino administration had initiated in 2010.

“Our main thrust and objective would be to minimize discretion in government. You minimize discretion, you minimize corruption. If you eliminate discretion, you eliminate corruption,” said Escudero.

“Basically, I’ve seen how it works for the first time since I entered government—the value of an anticorruption drive [and] its effect on the economy, the perception of businessmen from other countries. In my simple view of things, discretion equals corruption,” he said.

He recalled a simple anticorruption method implemented by the late Emilia Boncodin, budget secretary during Arroyo’s time, where disbursement requests were processed and released on a “first in, first out” basis.

“When a congressman comes in and his voucher is number 20 in the queue, the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) will say, ‘Sorry Mr. Congressman, we are still at No. 8. We will get to you,’” said Escudero of the process that eliminated the practice of pulling strings to get one lawmaker’s request processed ahead of others.

 

No pockets, no drawers

He had a practical suggestion to solve known corrupt practices in the internal revenue and customs bureaus, where money often changes hands: “There should be no pockets in employee’s uniforms and tables should have no drawers.” (See related story on Page A1.)

He credited Aquino, a candidate whose last-minute presidential bid in 2010 he endorsed, for laying the groundwork. It would take consistency for the developments—the record 6.6-percent 2012 economic growth and the Philippine economy’s recent upgrade to investment grade—to trickle down the socioeconomic ladder but change has begun, said Escudero.

“It has to be sustained. Because the only time that the growth we are seeing right now can be felt downstairs in the form of creation of jobs and increased incomes would be if he can do this for at least four quarters or two years,” said the senator.

While the current administration is “not perfect,” Escudero lauded Aquino’s stringent personal stance against corruption, saying none of his close colleagues or even relatives could pull strings in Malacañang.

“Name me one official who is close to him who can actually say this line: ‘Ah may kailangan ka ba kay P-Noy? Sagot ko na  ’yan, ako na bahala (You need anything from the President? I’ll take care of it).’ Nobody can say that with certainty. Right now, no one can. Not even the sisters can say that,” said Escudero, referring to Aquino’s siblings.

Waiver bill

 

Still along anticorruption lines, Escudero said he would push for the passage of the Waiver Bill if reelected. The bill, which he said has been “languishing” in the Senate, seeks to bind public officials and candidates in signing a waiver to make their bank records known publicly.

Under his proposal, bank secrecy waivers should be filed alongside a public official’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Escudero was among the 20 senators who voted to convict former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona at the conclusion of his impeachment trial in May last year. He was impeached for deficiencies in his SALN.

The senator also hopes to push for the pending amendment of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act to lower the costs of electricity in the Philippines. The country’s current power rates are known to be among the highest in Southeast Asia.

In search of happy ending

Asked whether or not he was willing to apologize to the Ongpaucos, Escudero said: “I’m not closing any doors. In fact, I’m opening even the windows. Who wouldn’t want a happy ending?”

Escudero addressed the issue of eventually getting married to Evangelista. “We haven’t talked about this yet. I don’t know why this was even mentioned. It’s completely unfair to both Heart and me. It’s wrong for me to say they’re being presumptuous because I know it will only be interpreted in a different way,” he stressed.

However, Escudero added that he has already filed for annulment of his church wedding and that it’s “under process. We’ve already filed it and it’s being heard now.”

The senator claimed he still planned to reach out to Evangelista’s parents. “Time heals all wounds. Things we thought to be impossible before are possible now. Let’s just look at the case of China and Taiwan. We all thought there would be war but a decade later there are over 300 flights from the mainland to Taiwan. Look at where they are now? But then again, these are nations, not individuals.”

Escudero said Evangelista has also met his kids—Cecilia and Joaquin—with his ex-wife. “They’re okay. I’d like to just leave it at that… The kids are turning 6 in September. They’d sometimes tease me when I say goodbye to them before going to work. They’d say, ‘Where are you going, Daddy? Are you off to see Tita Heart?’”

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  • Marx Louis Wang

    Hayup ka! Animal! huwag na huwag ka sana’ng manalo!!! Wala kaming paki sa personal life mo, puro ka walang halagang publicity!!! Hindi kami mabubusog sa publicity gimmick mo kahit na kaunting pag-asa!!!

  • Marx Louis Wang

    PUBLICITY PUBLICITY PANGIT MO LUWA ANG MGA MATA!!!

    • Loggnat

      :)) Baka naman… Tulak bibig, kabig dibdib iyan… hehehe tama ba iyang tagalog ko? :)) He is not a pretty boy that’s for sure. But he has that intelligent mind and masculine ugly look, too. That bad boy look that girls love and attracted to a lot. :)) He has tha Jack Palance so ugly face that almost makes him undeniably masculine attractive look. hahaha. Biro lang po! :))

  • http://www.yellowmythbusters.gov.ph/ Weder-Weder Lang

    Chiz Escudeero has long been overrated. He does not deserve to be top 1 or top 2 in the billboard charts. Aside from his hypnotic and droning voice, there’s nothing captivating about Chiz Escudero’s sound bites. His pock-marked face is not much to look at and his droopy eyes are sleep-inducing to watch on TV.

    Even when Chiz Escudero was guesting in DZMM’s Usapang de Campanilla program many many years ago, he was mostly rude on the air and rather impatient to callers who could not immediately grasp legal jargon and technical terms right away. As if nonlawyers should regard him in awe, Chiz Escudero was often reluctant to spell out in layman’s terms whatever legal advise he provided on the air (in contrast to Atty. Danny Concepcion). Mabuti na lang, Chiz Escudero’s impatience was only tempered by DZMM host Alvin Elchico on live radio (says a lot about how Chiz Escudero regards ordinary folks).

    If one were to carefully analyze how Chiz Escudero shot to national prominence, his only claim to fame is being the spokesperson for the congressional minority during Arroyo’s time. By saying something against the Arroyos every time he opened his mouth and faced the TV camera, Chiz Escudero became famous. But now that the Arroyos are no longer in power and no longer a convenient excuse for everything that’s wrong in this country, Chiz Escudero has to find something else to keep his former rockstar status from diminishing.

    His coupling with a has-been like Heart Evangelista has done little to help his political career. Walking Heart down the aisle though might win him some of his prospective wife’s trust fund and family wealth. If Chiz Escudero loses in the May election, it only means that voters are able to see through this phony politico. Sana matalo si Chiz Escudero so he can spend more time with Heart and help her grow up into a mature lady. Whatever happens, Chiz Escudero the golddigger surely knows how to prospect for gold before digging in. Yan ang husband material.

    • Bernard Rayoso

      true true…. he should be on top 13 or 14…. banderang kapos… things is if you are a father and mother..are we not supposed to be proud if someone is courting our girl who happenned to be a well known senator who have an aspiration to be one day president ???? di ba dapat proud ang mga parents ni Heart sa kanya??? pero bakit they are not proud of him??? a big question??? tsk.. He shows his true color when he first try to run for president…. bakit di siya sinuportahan ni Danding ???? President or nothing seems to be a very very very arrogant position then…. particularly to his like.. who seems to know only his rhetoric and nothing more…. before i like him.. but in this recent days.. i regret that our family have voted for him before…

  • farmerpo

    A typical politician wanting to break into the entertainment business. Used to be sharp and polished. Now, trapo scent, moves, dialogue has rubbed into him. A good apple dumped in a basket of rotten apples and became one.

  • imongredneck

    Midlife crisis and politics are extremely bad combination. Your head should be on top of everything, not in between your legs.

  • TinimbangNgunitKulang

    Track record of puro buladas lang…all talk, no results.

  • allandel

    bakit si escudero ang laman ng article pero picture naman ng buwan ang pinakikita? wala bang makuhang litrato ni escudero ang inquirer?

  • allandel

    i’m sorry, si escudero raw pala yung na picture, sabi ng friend ko.

  • boybakal

    Escudero talking about Affairs of State, he cannot even solve his Affairs of the Heart.

  • pinoy_abno

    FAKE!

  • hustlergalore

    showbiz naman talaga yan si chizzy. kung saan ang popular, doon siya. wala siyang sariling paninindigan. boka lang ng boka. LOL

    • erica

      can’t agree more. rhetoric king yan at wala namang nagagawa, mabilis lang bumuka ang bunganga. lip service lang.

    • txtman

      MAG-ARTISTA NA LANG SIYA
      PITIFUL
      AHAHAHAH

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Abdul-Rashid/100004367910013 Abdul Rashid

    This is what noticed about Chiz when he first run for the senate. He had a web site and we contributed much because really thought he was good. After he was elected I have not heard from him, maski isang sulat man lang thanking us for our support. I am disgusted. And now itong love affair going wild. Being a politician respect to the parents of your concubine is top priority. You have to be formal. Smelling alak is not necessarily alcoholic but bad manners.

    to lang masabi ko ke Chiz. YOU ARE NOT FIT FOR PUBLIC OFFICE.

  • water_gate64

    It is sad testament to the abysmal state of affairs in this country, when the media makes a point of reporting puerile gibberish espoused by worthless trapos. It is time for a change and the expulsion of Escudero from office would be a very good start.

  • Johannes Arthuremus

    Wala Iyan Escudero na Iyan papogipogi pa cute cute Lang sa Senado! Hang gang Imbento Lang ng Batas Hindi naman isinasabuhay. Broken marriage Iyan bakit mo kasi pinatulan heart! Ngayon broken hearted ka! Yan ang future president wag na hang gang salita Lang yan!!!!

  • Johannes Arthuremus

    Do not vote for this man!

  • manual47

    “much ado about nothing”……who cares about your love story. Do so something that benefits the Filipinos……….like, convince your fellow crooks to abolish the “pork barrel”, put initiative to abolish political dynasty, show some leadership by going after these crooks in Congress and in the Senate, etc…etc…etc… But I doubt you even consider any of the above, knowing “birds of the same feathers, flocks together”. So friend, keep your love story to yourself and as I said, think of something that’s useful, for once……..to the country.

  • wakats

    The electorates should be thankful to the Ongpaucos of Barrio Fiesta chain for uncovering the true character of chix who has long deceived the people for his boladas and self-perceived political stature but no track record of lasting legislative innovation and intelligent debates.

    Why vote for a genuine trapo and “BASTOS AT MAYABANG” who might someday lead the country like gma?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Abdul-Rashid/100004367910013 Abdul Rashid

      Ninang ni Chiz si GMA. Which makes him more like GMA. Its about time he graduates from the public arena. Kawawa ang mamamayan.

  • buttones

    Heartthrob? Was that the headline? OMG! Heart attack more like! Just because the poor guy has shades glued to his balding head hardly makes him a ‘heartthrob’ – what does he actually do? Sing, dance, act, trapeze artist, does he train lions? I mean what on earth does the poor guy do, apart from bark like a seal and flap his flippers when Aquino the trainer appears ?

  • $26606290

    Marupok pala to si Chiz. Akala ko mukha Nya lang ang bukbukin.

  • JosephNess

    “There should be no pockets in employee’s uniforms and tables should have no drawers.”

    at this age of computers, corruption will still exist…hi-tech…’see no pockets and drawers.’ government people will say…but, look…my bank accounts are full…there should be a systematic approach on this and no pockets, no drawers will just be for show…come on guys, maybe you do not know how the mind of a Filipino works…they are the best when it comes to performing intellectual duties but, they are the worst too when it comes to inventing foolishness…corruption? that’s a small time task for the mind of a simple innocent looking Filipino…

    • doncleo

      talagang bang matalino sya? bakit napaka stupid ng mga suggestions nya?..pera lang ba ang nilalagay sa bulsa?? papano yung cellphone, yung car keys at pitaka na may laman lisensya at ID? saan ilalagay yung panyo init pa naman sa pinas?ang dapat talaga buwagin ang BOC pero dapat buwagin na din ang Senado at Kongreso par mapalitan ng mga bagong henerasyon ng mambabatas..silang lahat ngayon dyan ay magnanakaw ng pork barrel and i mean walang exception ..

  • Guest

    Affairs of the state, ? Dapat sa roots simulan..Pano ka rerespetuhin kung magulang ng gf mo di mo nirespeto.I voted for u then, but no way now..

  • marcos_hitler_diktador_tuta

    No, I will not vote for you. Dada lang nang dada, walang gawa.
    Manlilinlang.

  • Guest

    mag pabelo ka chiz..para mamazilla face mo..dami butas

  • boybakal

    Request lang po….pwede bang itabi nyo ang picture ni Chiz kay Gov. Salceda of Albay.
    Bakit pareho silang bukbukin.
    Talagang ang mga bikolano di lang oragon, utugan pa.

    • doncleo

      akala ko sasabihin mo pareho silang bading?LOL!!!

  • Corrupt_Jerk

    Your true image has already revealed…you left your family with 5 kids just to grab your opportunity to have the rich girl… You don’t deserve to have my vote. You don’t deserve also to be seated on the Senate again. You left no moral for yourself. What a shame on you.

  • Simon Ward

    “I made sure of the fact that I separated my personal life from my political life and my job,” Escudero said.

    No you didn’t. I wonder if you even tried. Evidence: This interview and many others like it. In fact, I think you’re milking the loathing Heart’s parents have for you for all it’s worth.

  • QQU

    “Hindi naman ako bato.”
    As a senator, he might as well be. The kid is so full of himself.

  • erica

    Hearthtrob????????????? excuse me po. Baka heart attack. LOL

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessiemar.cabanero Jessiemar Cabanero

    mostly phil.politicians,activists even church disciples were just a mere fronts for their own or selfesh interests and a follower of hidden agenda for their superiors which is the case where until now filipinos living in extreme poverty.all agencies even government officials knew what to do and exactly knew what to be done to let philippines became a progressive nation but they let their dictators govern just for their own achievements.why these pure filipino politicians let this things happened.filipinos dont love their country only love their selves.

  • karunungan32

    I dont think your dumb, maybe lazy, but not dumb. If you didnt want this to happen, you would have not engaged or either hid this whole affair, but no. You KNOW you would get a lot of attention. unfortunately it blew it up in his face…

  • gigi2312

    he’s considered a hearthrob….one of our senators is considered that.. cant you see the wrong in that? There’s a lot of issues to be solved for our country and we have a senator that can be considered to join showbiz. considered in a sense with the relationship and all his commercials before…

  • petr101

    its hard to take this guy seriously when his interviews always starts with a talk about his relationship….

    • babylaki

      its hard to take a guy seriously when he didn’t do much in his last term….

  • padrefaura

    heartthrob? kung sabagay, sabi ng mga magulang ni heart, you are robbing heart naman.

  • randyaltarejos

    Ang problema nga ganito. Kung ang isang public official ay balisa palagi dahil sa kanyang love affair with a younger actress, how can he be expected to perform well as a public official. Senator Escudero must be aware that “a public office is a public trust.” I’m not saying that he is engaged in graft and corruption, but being “tolero” because of his controversial relationship with actress Heart Evangelista will most likely affect his efficiency as a lawmaker.

  • Guest

    Lets focus on the affair of your hidden real personality and character

  • Agat Sumi

    booooooo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/julio.cabacaba Julio Cabacaba

    DATI BILIB AKO SA ESCUDERONG IRE, PERO NGAYON, PARANG MIRIAM SANTIAGO NA RIN ANG DATING NITO, KAHIT ANO ANO SINASABI PARA LANG MAKAKUHA NG ATENSYON, AT BOTO. MAY MATINO SANANG PAMILYA AT ASAWA, PERO DAHIL SA AMBISYON AT PARA MAKATULONG SA KAMPANYA NYA, PUMATOL SA ARTISTA. AT ETONG BOBANG ARTISTA NAMAN NA KULANG SA PANSIN DIN, AY NAGPAUTO SA BOLA NI ESCUDERO. PERO PARANG ANG LUMALABAS TALAGA DITO AY SI ESCUDERO AY FRONT LANG NYA ANG MGA CHIKS, ACTUALY, BADING SYA. PANSININ NYO LANG KUNG MAKANGITI, PARANG CHIKS NA RIN, HAY, CHIKS ESCUDERO!

    • Marx Louis Wang

      Si Miriam maraming bills na nagawa, samantalang ito, pati ang second rated na artista ginagamit para lang magka publicity.

  • Beguine

    The long and the short of it is that Escudero’s private life has been shamefully
    exposed by Heart’s parents, most shamefully for being a drunkard.

    Is a drunkard worth voting for as senator?

    And that’s not to mention that he cannot make an honest woman of Heart
    because he cannot marry her cannot exchange marriage vows with her
    and therefore in religious terms they’re living in sin.

    Which is something Escudero will surely just shrug off.

    Don’t vote for Escudero. He’s shabby, a sinner, a drunkard rolled into one.

  • prince_janus

    Junk the Chiz. Panis na yan!

  • damiranda126

    Here’s you candidate! Mr. Cradle Snatcher! Sinabihan mo noon si GMA na makapal ang mukha niya. E ikaw, mas makapal ka pala e. Mr. Adobe face! Sabi mo noon magnanakaw si GMA, ikaw din masahol ka pa nga e… Mr. Magnanakaw ng kamusmusan. Hindi ka ba kinikilabutan kapag kasiping mo si Heart, hindi mo ba naiisip na parang anak mo yang sinisipingan mo! Walang hiya ka!

  • Elnore

    Bakit naman ito naging heartthrob? Puro butas ang face at mukha talagang mayabang.

  • boybakal

    Heartthrob….Chiz a heartthrob?
    Is that the face of a hearthrob….With that face, Chiz is not a heartthrob, Chiz is more pang isis ng inidoro at bathtub.

  • Maldi2

    Chiz, you won’t get my vote. I don’t ever trust a drunkard!

  • Rolly257

    Kapag ang pulitiko balimbingin, malamang corrupt din…

  • joyax

    Ninang nya pala si GMA, eh bakit nya tinalikuran for Pnoy? Kamag-anak nya siguro si Drillon sa kabalimbingan!

  • lapuk

    walang botong matatanggap si escudero sa amin….

  • Pedro_Gil

    Tama na ang arte Escudero. walang naniniwala sa iyo. Kumag!

  • noyab

    ang askad ng mukha mo Chiz, pa masilyahan mo…

  • noyab

    heart evangelista, wala ka na bang mapili na iba, kadiri ka naman, maghanap ka ng tunay na HUMAN….mukhang HUMANOID NA ABNOID ang pinipili mo…kumuha ka naman ng MAKINIS ANG FACE……

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