By Aurea Calica
Friday, September 5, 2008
Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. maintained yesterday that for him, it would be the presidency or nothing in 2010.
As early as last December, Villar, Nacionalista Party (NP) president, had declared in an interview with STARweek magazine that there was “no turning back” on his plan to run for president in 2010.
He said he would be his party’s standard-bearer.
Villar reiterated on ABS-CBN television that he would seek the presidency, but added that he and his party are still working on the complete NP ticket.
ABS-CBN reported that Villar was open to having Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., as part of his team.
Poe lost to President Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections.
His camp alleged that massive cheating occurred, resulting in his defeat.
Villar said he was impressed by Llamanzares’ popularity, integrity and work ethic, which he claims are needed in serving the public.
Villar attended Llamanzares’ birthday party Wednesday night.
In the STARweek interview, Villar vowed to reestablish the dominance of NP as the “Grand Old Party” by making it stronger in terms of alliances before 2010.
The Senate president said he would rely on his expertise in building organizations, something he has been doing all his life.
“I think nothing (can make me turn back),” was his straightforward response when asked what could make him and the NP retreat from the presidential race.
“It’s time for NP (to be known again), especially now that we’re celebrating our 100th year,” Villar said.
Villar prides himself as being a poor boy from Tondo, Manila who sold fish and shrimp in Divisoria to help his family and send his siblings to school.
Given his experience and performance, Villar does not think NP will lag behind in the 2010 presidential elections and will even have the advantage once he begins to build it into a bigger organization.
But he warned against continued efforts to have the Constitution amended through constitutional convention or people’s initiative.
“This administration has big problems. First, (Mrs. Arroyo) was perceived to have cheated but impeachment attempts against her did not succeed. Second, it is making money (out of government deals). It should not be the case (for the next administration),” he said.
An earlier survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations showed that if presidential elections were held today, it would be a tight race between Vice President Noli de Castro and Villar.
The survey commissioned by a political party said De Castro had 26 percent preference and Villar 22 percent.
Another SWS survey released last month showed that De Castro is still the top pick among presidential bets, closely followed by Sen. Loren Legarda and Villar.
Next to them were Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis Escudero, Mar Roxas, former President Joseph Estrada and Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
De Castro said he welcomed the results but did not confirm or deny that he was running in the forthcoming presidential polls.
He said the results of the surveys show the public’s continued trust and confidence in him.
He vowed to continue with his current duties, helping overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and providing affordable housing for the poor.