MANILA, Philippines?Does Uncle Sam know something that Juan De La Cruz doesn?t? Or is the former just doing his job?
The United States has opened communication lines with the camp of Sen. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III, the Liberal Party standard-bearer said.
A number of foreign journalists, including someone from Time magazine, had also visited him, Aquino said.
Aquino, the only son of the late President Corazon Aquino and assassinated opposition leader Sen. Benigno ?Ninoy? Aquino Jr., is the leading presidential candidate based on surveys conducted by Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia Inc.
He confirmed on Saturday that US government officials had unofficially contacted his camp.
At a press conference, Aquino said his party-mates had talked to some American officials, including former US Ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney before she was recalled.
?There have been contacts, but I am not sure how official they are. Of course, we expressed some of our viewpoints to Ambassador Kenney before she left,? Aquino said.
?They talked to people who are close to me. So, it was unofficial. I am not even sure if they have been tasked to do this,? he added.
US initiated meetings
Aquino said that it was the Americans who asked for the meetings and he gave the go-signal for his party-mates to meet with them.
?They (party-mates) asked for my clearance saying ?There are these people. They are from this? they want to talk to us. Can we talk to them??? Aquino said.
?I said ?Why not? Let?s talk to everybody,? he added.
He said these ?unofficial contacts? between his camp and US officials were still preliminary and did not involve serious discussions.
?This is getting to know [you], general viewpoints,? Aquino said.
A number of foreign journalists, meanwhile, have visited him.
Aquino said the last time he saw some of the foreign correspondents was during the coup attempts against his mother.
He said that after a Time magazine reporter came to interview him, there were at least three other foreign journalists who talked to him. [He was featured on the cover of the American magazine.]
?I have this sensitivity when there?s foreign media. After Time, there were three others. Some were veterans of (the 1986) Edsa (people power revolution),? he said.
?When they?re many, what is it that they see that we don?t? They were here during the coups. It seems that something big is going to happen now that they?re here,? he said.
Villar met Kenney, too
In Davao City, the Nacionalista Party standard-bearer, Sen. Manuel Villar, said he also had regular ?breakfast, lunch and dinner? meetings with Kenney.
He said he did not consider these as the United States sizing him up for potential US backing in the presidential election.
?We spoke regularly... we just ate at breakfast, lunch and dinner,? Villar said at a press conference, eliciting laughter from reporters.
Villar considered the meetings with the then top US representative to the country as a ?normal invitation,? adding that he had met with Kenney quite often.
He was quick to add that it was also important to share one?s views not only with officials of the United States but also with other countries like China.
?It is equally important that the views of China and other countries will also be known,? he said.
Villar brushed aside Time magazine?s cover feature on Aquino.
He would not comment on whether he considered it a US endorsement of Aquino.
?Of course, I would have liked it better if it was me on the cover. But it?s a foreign magazine and they would not be the ones who will vote anyway,? Villar said.
He added that he had also been featured in several foreign magazines.