MANILA, Philippines?A mouthful was let loose Wednesday by the future ?Mrs. Palengke.?
Speaking on air with her colleague Ted Failon, ABS-CBN broadcaster Korina Sanchez lashed out at perceived detractors of her fiancé, Sen. Manuel ?Mar? Roxas II, who announced on Tuesday that he was abandoning his aspiration for the presidency to give way to Sen. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III.
Sanchez, who is on leave from her broadcasting chores at the giant network, trained her guns on Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros for supposedly describing the current crop of ?presidentiables? as ?hungry for power.?
Roxas has long made known his ambition to be president, and has become known as ?Mr. Palengke? for his frequent forays in wet markets to check on prices of staples.
Said Sanchez in a mix of English and Filipino: ?One columnist said we should give the presidency to those who don?t really want it. If you ask me, he?s generalizing. It?s like Mar was included. That?s what makes me want to cry. To Conrado de Quiros, what do you say now? I think he owes Mar an apology for making sweeping statements like that.?
She also took a swipe at Sen. Francis ?Kiko? Pangilinan who had earlier called on Roxas to give way to Aquino and who, she said, owed her big-time.
?Walang hiyang tao lang ang magsasabi nyan (Only an ingrate can say something like that). How can Kiko say something like that?? she said, adding that he was just bumming around the University of the Philippines until she installed him as executive producer of the ?Hoy, Gising? TV program.
In an interview with the Inquirer, De Quiros said he would not apologize to Sanchez or Roxas.
?I have no control over how people feel about the things I write. People who ask me to apologize will have to fall in line. [Sanchez] should fall in line and take a number ? I would apologize if I was wrong. This is not one of those times,? he said.
De Quiros recalled that at a recent forum organized by the Aksyon Demokratiko party, he was asked by an ABS-CBN reporter about his views on Roxas? qualifications to be president.
?I remember saying that other candidates were, to use a term from [actress] Susan Roces, atat na atat (overeager) to run. And Noynoy is reluctant to run. So I said he who is least interested deserves to have [the presidency],? the columnist said.
He said he was not referring to Roxas or any other aspirant in particular, and that his statement could also refer to other politicians like President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
?I can?t do anything if [Sanchez] sees it another way. [Her] outburst was okay lang. It?s not as if it?s a big deal, and I say that not as if I?m a snob. I have nothing to apologize for to her or to Mar. I say things as I see them, and I think I saw it right,? De Quiros said.
He added: ?She?s frustrated with what?s happened; I guess she blames me. She took what I said out of context because it was in reference to everybody...?
Positive, not intrusive
De Quiros said Sanchez?s behavior was part of ?her personality.?
But if fianceés or spouses of candidates want to make their presence felt, they should ?make it positive,? he said. ?Don?t be intrusive because it ruins things. If you are going to be more assertive, might as well do it in a positive side.?
De Quiros also said Sanchez?s statement that Roxas himself was a reluctant candidate was ?not entirely true.?
?Mar was mentioned by Sen. Miriam Santiago as one of those early campaigners,? De Quiros said. ?I have no problem with Mar but he can?t escape the charge that he was included as one of those eager to be president, until [Tuesday].?
According to De Quiros, Roxas? withdrawal from the presidential race ?saved him from a fate worse than death.?
?His chances of winning were almost nil,? De Quiros said. ?He is one of the bigger spenders [for TV ads] but his ratings are not going strong. He is not capturing the people?s imagination.?
The columnist said the people?s imagination should be captured because the 2010 presidential election ?is not an ordinary election? but ?a fight between good and evil.?
He said Aquino, the only son of the late former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino, was ?the most qualified to take up that fight? because ?he is the embodiment, the repository and the carryover of People Power.?
On the other hand, Roxas has good chances to become vice president, De Quiros said, adding:
?Mar is the least atat (eager). I?ve said that. If Aug. 5 (when Corazon Aquino was buried) didn?t happen, likely I would have gone for Mar. He has no taint of corruption or patronage. Given the field, I might have gone for Mar. His chances were not very good but I?ve never gone for candidates who were ?winnable?.?
Asked to comment on Sanchez?s statements against him, Senator Pangilinan could only say he ?understood? where these were coming from.
?It?s not a joke what Senator Roxas did. His sacrifice was painful for his family? who had spent much time preparing for his presidential aspiration, Pangilinan told reporters.
He refused to answer any more questions when asked if he had bad-mouthed Roxas, as Sanchez had suggested.
Pangilinan said he had called for Roxas to quit the presidential race because there was no more time for political intramurals.
But he stressed that he admired, respected and saluted Roxas for what the latter did.
He also said he would heed Roxas? call for the unity of the Liberal Party, of which he, along with Roxas and Aquino, is a member.
Asked whether this meant that he would also withdraw his aspiration for the vice presidency, Pangilinan said he was ready to do so if this would be ?necessary for the unity of all forces of change.?
?I was hurt?
In an interview with the Inquirer hours after her emotional interview with Failon, Sanchez said: ?I don?t want to fight [anyone].
?I did not attack Conrado de Quiros. I simply asked him a question: Was it Mar he was referring to as atat sa posisyon? I was hurt.?
?And now that Mar has made that announcement, is he still among the overeager ones??
Sanchez admitted that she was aware of other ?negative comments? thrown Roxas? way, aside from those made by the columnist.
?But it was De Quiros whom I saw on TV. It hurt me because I know Mar was also hurt,? she said.
?I don?t want a fight. I?m a fan of De Quiros. I read his columns every time. He mentioned no names. I don?t want to ruin whatever Mar made [Tuesday] night because of this,? she said.
During the interview with Failon, he commented that it was the first time he had heard Sanchez cry openly.
?I cried not because Mar decided not to run for president,? Sanchez told the Inquirer.
She said she actually felt as though a thorn had been plucked from her.
She added: ?His family and I are very happy and very heartened by all of the text messages and the calls that we got: ?Mar, wala na yatang katulad mo.? ?You?re a living hero.?
?If he doesn?t run for vice president, I?d be glad to return to my radio and TV programs.
?I cried because I saw the hardship on Mar?s face. I saw how he had worked so hard. He campaigned hard, he had had almost no sleep, and then there were still doubts about him. But that?s all finished now.?
Now that Roxas has given up on his presidential aspiration, Sanchez said they could now concentrate on their wedding on Oct. 23. With reports from Marinel R. Cruz and Christine O. Avendaño