PHILIPPINES NEWS SERVICE — THE claim of Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco that majority of the congressmen is behind Sen. Noynoy Aquino was met with furor at the House of Representatives, with many lawmakers saying they were not aware of Cuenco’s informal survey.
Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, staunch supporter of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, said it is unlikely that a survey was held since most congressmen are always absent.
“With all due respect to Congressman Cuenco, I doubt the results of his survey because he never gave a survey form or asked us personally who we wanted for President. With quorum problems plaguing Congress, I don’t think the plenary can even muster 130 congressmen on the floor,” Magsaysay said.
She said the claimed survey is a good publicity gimmick for Aquino at the expense of the lawmakers.
According to Cuenco, he did an informal survey two weeks ago. Congressmen were asked who among Aquino, Teodoro and Sen. Manny Villar they would support.
Cuenco said 100 lawmakers picked Aquino while Villar and Teodoro each got 50 votes. Doubting lawmakers said the result is ironic since the Lower Chamber is dominated by Lakas-Kampi members who are about to endorse Teodoro as the administration’s standard bearer.
Camiguin Rep. Pedro Romualdo said he never noticed Cuenco making any survey but should he be asked, he will vote for Teodoro.
“In the House, there are few Liberal Party congressmen, few Nacionalista Party, more than 100 Lakas-Kam-pi-CMD, so far all are for Teodoro,” Romualdo said.
Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, who belongs to the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, also doubted if a survey was held since the House of Representatives is composed of several blocs supporting different candidates.
Meanwhile, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said the survey is not accurate because he believes that most of the members of the House prefer Teodoro over Aquino or Villar.
“I do not really know if the survey is accurate, I was of the impression that most of the congressmen are for Gibo,” Barzaga told reporters.
Likewise, Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron and Bacolod City Rep. Monico Puen-tevella said they never talked to Cuenco. They were also not asked to respond to a survey.
But despite all the denials of the congressmen, Cuenco still insisted that he did an informal survey.
“That was my own private survey, they are free to disagree,” he said, adding some solons are afraid to disclose their preference for presidency for fear that they will not receive their pork barrel.
Gibo is it
Speaker Prospero Nograles, Jr. said Teodoro has the strongest backing of the “great majority” of congressmen belonging to the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD.
Nograles said Teodoro, the Harvard-educated 1989 bar topnotcher, represents for most ruling party congressmen a principled choice that could not be influenced nor overturned by pork barrel considerations as Cuenco suggested.
“I don’t think there is any basis for (Cuenco’s) assessment,” said Nograles, the Lakas-Kampi CMD vice-chairman.
“The Lakas leadership made its own survey with respect to their choice of presidential candidate, and their choice is Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro,” he added.
“A great majority of our members are highly principled and I don’t think that their choice of Gibo was plainly based on what congressman Cuenco describes as pork barrel considerations,” Nograles said.
Last week, 92 House members signed a Joint Manifesto of support for Teodoro.
“We in Lakas-Kampi have the numbers,” Nograles said.
He said Cuenco may have been speaking for himself when he announced the result of his informal survey.
“This is all fish talk,” said Rep. Exequiel Javier, chairman of the ways and means committee and the Regional Chairman of the ruling party in Western Visayas.
He said the survey purportedly undertaken by Cuenco is a “phantom survey whose results have no scientific basis.”
“This so called survey is a hype signifying nothing,” Javier said. “I was never approached nor did I learn of any survey form being distributed to our colleagues in Congress.”
Other leading Lakas-Kampi CMD leader in the House questioned Cuenco’s motive and called his announcement a “publicity stunt that does not reflect the real sentiment” of members of the House.
Among them are Representatives Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr., Rodolfo Antonino, Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, Narciso R. Bravo, Edcel C. Lagman, Yevgeny Vincente Emano, Nur G. Jaafar, Thelma Almario and Philip Pichay.
Magsaysay said the Manifesto of support for Teodoro remains unchanged.
“That expression of support has been affirmed and reaffirmed. We are extremely optimistic that this core group of supporters of Secretary Gibo will expand in the coming weeks,” she said.
Malacañang also shrugged off Cuenco’s survey.
Presidential Economic Affairs Spokesman Gary Olivar said the public should not give much significance to the survey.
“Even congressman Cuenco said he does not claim that the survey will rise up to the level of SWS or Pulse. Informal lang naman yun,” Olivar said. “We should not give too much significance to it.”
Olivar however advised Cuenco to avoid making public surveys on presidential candidates when it is not official.
He said the survey results are not in any way a reflection of the loss of confidence of administration lawmakers on President Macapagal-Arroyo.