Sotto tells GO to try something new

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Former senator Vicente Sotto 3rd said Tuesday that the political opposition should now stop questioning the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration, and present instead a program of government other than the ouster of the President.

Sotto, the campaign manager of Fernando Poe Jr. in the 2004 presidential election, said they had known President Arroyo would win after the opposition coalition had failed to field candidates and precinct watchers in several key provinces. Sotto, however, stopped short of saying this failure had enabled operators to do as they pleased in these areas.

“We [opposition leaders] knew GMA [Mrs. Arroyo] would win, but we did not know by how much,” he explained.

Charges of cheating in 2004, especially in Cebu, had resulted in rallies and the filing of impeachment cases against the President to oust her. The President got a one million majority over Poe in Cebu, which the opposition had conceded weeks before the campaign by canceling its miting de avance.

“We had a very popular candidate but a very weak organization. We learned our lessons in 2004, but the Genuine Opposition has closed its eyes to this. Its candidates still believe they will win even if they have no organizations. They will wake up to reality on election day,” Sotto said.

He also described as “believable” the charge of former senator Tessie Aquino-Oreta that former President Joseph Estrada funded the production and distribution of the jingle that ridicules him, Oreta and Sen. Edgardo Angara for joining the Team Unity ticket.

“The fact that the tape was shown to Erap [Estrada] before its production makes Tessie’s charge believable,” Sotto said.

The actor Rez Cortez had claimed being the composer of the so-called “ASO”—for Angara, Sotto and Oreta—tape. Sotto doubted if Cortez had the funds to produce and distribute the tapes, saying Cortez had been “idle” for a long time.

He also said Cortez is very close to Estrada.

“Erap had even called Gov. Ito Ynarez of Rizal asking him to consider Rex Cortez as his vice-governor. Ito refused. So members of the media were used by Cortez to further his political ambition,” he said.

The lawyers of Oreta and Angara had petitioned the Commission on Elections asking all those who had published or aired the ASO jingle to give them the right to reply.