DoJ chief vows 12-0 win for Team Unity in Iloilo

PHILIPPINES NEWS SERVICE — For the sake of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s call for national unity, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez yesterday said he has re-considered his position not to support some of the candidates of the “Team Unity” who had attacked and even called for the resignation of the President.

Gonzalez, who is considered among the influential politicians in the vote-rich Iloilo province, said he would even strongly work for a 12-0 victory of the administration senatorial ticket.

A staunch supporter of the President, Gonzalez earlier said that he would not campaign for some candidates of the Team Unity who “caused so much pain to the President.”

While he did not mention names, Gonzalez was referring to former Senator Vicente Sotto III, who asked the President to step down at the height of the “Hello Garci” controversy.

In the case of Senator Edgardo Angara and former Senator Tessie Aquino Oreta, Gonzalez noted that they have not openly called for the President’s resignation.

“As of this time, I will not make a prediction. But if I decide to carry all of them, I think yes. At the rate they have performed yesterday, it can be 12-0. My feeling really is I cannot [support them], but out of respect to the President and for her call for national unity, I might. “

Gonzalez also said he had nothing to do with the alleged sabotage of the Genuine Opposition senatorial slate’s first major campaign sortie in Iloilo Wednesday night.

He shrugged off the claims of GO campaign manager JV Ejercito that there was a serious security threat that prompted the organizers to cancel the rally, which was supposed to have been held at the Rotary Ampitheater, right in front of the Iloilo provincial capitol.

“They had ghosts in that rally. I don’t know why they are blaming me, I was here [in Manila]. Just to prove how ridiculous that story is, they should have checked the blotter and records of the Iloilo police if there was a bomb threat or any complaint, but they did not,” Gonzalez said.

The reason for the cancellation of the political rally was because the local leaders were only able to work up a “pitiful, marginal” crowd, Gonzalez said. “It just so happened that they could not gather a crowd. They were just looking for an excuse. Kaya yang GO, go home na ang tao dahil nagutom,” he quipped.

He also took potshots at Iloilo Gov. Neil Tupas for claiming that he had the support of at least 42 mayors in the province, but failed to muster the crowd who flocked to the capitol during a siege in January. “Why is it that during the so-called siege in the capitol, they were able to gather thousands of people? Now here is a big rally with some of the opposition senators in the ticket, there were only less than 200 people?”

Gonzalez said the GO has only itself to blame because from the very start, it is fragmented. “They have no platform, they have no common denominator. To us it was a non-event, but they can dream of miracles.”