Malacañang does not see cracks in Team PNoy despite an apparent feud between the camps of reelectionist Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Loren Legarda.
Team PNoy’s campaign manager, Sen. Franklin Drilon, on Friday said Legarda was not breaking away from the administration coalition as a result of that feud.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Friday brushed aside talk of a possible breakup of the administration coalition that—should it happen—could further jeopardize President Benigno Aquino III’s goal of a clean sweep of this month’s senatorial election by his team.
At a briefing in the Palace, Lacierda shot down rumors that Legarda was already dissatisfied with the Liberal Party-led administration team.
“We believe that Senator Legarda is a team player,” said Lacierda, when asked if Legarda was being vilified because she had been topping the preelection polls.
Legarda, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), has become the target of vicious attacks through text messages and the social media.
On Thursday, Louis Biraogo, a self-styled public interest advocate, called a press conference where he questioned the accurateness of Legarda’s financial disclosures.
Legarda called a news conference on the same day to say that all her properties—including an apartment in New York bought by her former husband—had been declared in her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) since 2007.
She said the attacks on her were “all part of black propaganda” to dislodge her from the top of the polls.
Legarda said a fellow senatorial candidate was behind the latest attack on her but did not identify who it was.
She said her detractor was a male reelectionist senator who spread wild rumors about President Aquino’s mental health during the 2010 presidential election.
“He is known in the media as ‘Boy Kuryente’ (bum steer),” she said, clearly referring to Cayetano, a member of Team PNoy whose 2010 allegation against Mr. Aquino was later proved untrue. Cayetano was the spokesperson of Mr. Aquino’s presidential rival, Sen. Manuel Villar, in the 2010 elections.
“I will not run away when confronted with any alleged anomaly because I am a faithful public servant. This is yet another black propaganda because I could not be dislodged from being number one,” she added.
Cayetano has been trailing Legarda for the top spot in the surveys.
Lacierda, when asked if the political mudslinging was a prelude to the 2016 polls, said he expected the question to crop up, but quickly added, “It’s too early to speculate.”
Historically, senators who topped the senatorial race preceding a presidential election eventually ran for either president or vice president.
In a statement, Drilon said Legarda remained committed to the team.
“Senator Legarda has committed to me and to President PNoy that she remained a loyal team player of the Team PNoy senatorial slate and we are extremely grateful,” Drilon said.
Drilon sought to dismiss reports that Legarda adverted to the involvement of a member of the team in the attacks against her.
“In her press briefing on May 2, [Senator] Legarda deplored the continued black propaganda against her, but she accused no one and no political party in particular as being behind this demolition job,” Drilon said.
“The most that she revealed was the name of the source of media materials being circulated to opinion writers about the alleged noninclusion of her New York property in her SALN,” he said.
At her press conference, Legarda announced that the media was “authorized” to ask for a copy of her SALN from the Senate.
Waving a certification from SGV accounting firm and ACCRA law firm, the senator branded as a “lie” and a “smear campaign” the allegation of nondisclosure in her SALN of real property in the United States.
“The certification I have in my hand, prepared by my lawyers, is clear: The Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) I filed in June 30, 2007 includes the New York property subject of the black propaganda, described as ‘Other Investment’ in Annex A, in the amount of P7,175,000 equal to one-fourth of the total investment in the acquisition of apartment amounting to P28,700,000,” she said.
Beginning December 31, 2007 up to December 31, 2010, the same property was also included in the SALN described as “Equity in Real Property,” also one-fourth of the total P 28,700,000, she said.
“As of December 31, 2011 and December 31, 2012, the New York property was also included in my SALN described as “Real Property-USA,” she added.
She said it was “deplorable that people, possibly even some fellow candidates, could engage in such gutter politics, diverting people from the real issues.”
She did not name names.
“It’s political season and I have survived to answer clearly all the black propaganda hurled against me. I challenge the source of all this to come clean. I ask other candidates to stick to what we as candidates can do to address the problems facing the country, especially poverty,” Legarda.
She asked the media to likewise scrutinize the financial disclosures of other candidates, particularly all the incumbent senators.
“I am the author of the Freedom of Information Bill. Let’s not be waylaid by political mudslinging. The media are not for sale. Politics should not be run like a business. In front of my son (Lean), I swear that this certification of my lawyers from SGV and ACCRA is true,” she said.
“I was asked (by my lawyers) if even the minutest detail should be included (in the SALN). I told them, ‘Yes, I want them all declared because they are fruits of my work over 20 years in television,’” she said.
“The father of my children (two sons) is a wealthy man. Our marriage has been annulled, but that is a different story,” Legarda said. With a report from Norman Bordadora