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And then there were 10. Imelda Marcos quit the presidential race yesterday, and a common question was: Who would benefit most from it? The Leyte representative made no reference with any of her rivals in her four-paragraph withdrawal statement, but both the camps of Joseph Estrada, standard-bearer of the opposition LAMMP, and Jose de Venecia Jr., candidate of the ruling Lakas-NUCD claimed, or hoped, that the votes of her supporters would go to them. When she first ran for president in 1992, Ms Marcos polled 2,338,294 votes, placing fifth among the seven candidates. The former first lady herself refused to say who among the remaining aspirants she would back. Political sources said she was holding talks with two of her rivals which could help decide the election. In return, the widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who’s facing 12-year jail term for graft, is reportedly hoping for a guarantee from the likely winner to keep her out of prison, the sources said. One Marcos campaigner said Ms. Marcos was casting her lot with Estrada. (PDI)


Presidential candidate Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago yesterday accused the Ramos administration for conditioning the minds of the public to a failure of elections to prevent the next president from assuming office. "This is part of Malacañang’s last-ditch effort to perpetuate President Ramos in power," Santiago said in a statement. But she stressed that Mr. Ramos could not legally hold on to power after June 30. "The group of 12 senators whose term expire in the year 2001 has the legal power to elect a Senate president among them and serve as acting President, pursuant to the Constitution, in case there is a failure of elections," Santiago said. "The only hope then for the administration is to arrest, to dispose of, or to assasinate the 12 incumbent senators," she added. Santiago was reacting to a statement made by Comelec Commissioner Manolo Gorospe that the poll body was anticipating failure of elections in several critical areas in Mindanao which could thwart the proclamation of the next president. (PDI)


Why settle for a thief or a school drop out? Promdi presidential aspirant Emilio "Lito" Osmeña waded into the continuing word war between the ruling Lakas and the opposition with a warning to the people yesterday against electing an ill-prepared candidate or a thief in the government service. Osmeña said both types of presidential candidates will bring economic ruin to the country. "These are the kinds of candidates that will break the cycle of economic progress and would filch the wealth of the nation, and we have to prevent them," Osmeña said. While administration bet Speaker Jose de Venecia’s camp charged that his rival in the opposition, Vice President Joseph Estrada, a former movie actor and school droupout, does not have the academic training to be the next president, Estrada countered that it would be better to be a dropout than an educated thief in the government service. Osmeña offered himdelf as the "best alternative," citing his "solid" track record as an economic reformist and "unblemished reputation" as a public official. (TPS)

From Brother Eddie to Brother Mike?

President Ramos and the Lakas standard-bearer Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., met with Bro. Mike Velarde of the El Shaddai movement hours after the prayer rally of the Jesus is Lord (JIL) Movement last Sunday. This was confirmed yesterday by a Palace official who said that the meeting was aimed at finalizing plans for El Shaddai’s endorsement of De Venecia’s presidential bid. Present during the Sunday night meeting with Velarde aside from Ramos and De Venecia were Claudio and the Speaker’s wife Georgina, according to the same Malacañang source who spoke on the conditio of anonynity. De Venecia has been courting the support of El Shaddai for many months now. The charismatic group claims to have seven million members. Velarde encountered problems in his corporate holdings last year. Although he was intially investigated, government agencies never pursued the cases against him largely because, his critics say, of the influence he wields on politicians. (TMT)


The Commission on Elections was urged yesterday to come out with the final list of parties accredited to run uder the party-list system since it’s just 11 days to go before the election day. The Voters Organization Training and Education Towards Clean, Authentic and Responsible Elections (VoteCare) aslo proposed that the Comelec ban sectoral representatives from running nder the party list as most of them are associated with the country’s major political parties. The five biggest political parties are baneed from participating in this year’s party-list elections. Most sectoral representatives are associated with the major parties. Sister Roseanne Mallillin, executive director of VoteCare, said the Comelec should have already ruled out the disqualification of the candidates identified with the major political parties. "when we examine the nominees, we found that there are names associated with the banned parties in the party list, " Mallillin said. (TMT)


A Lakas candidate candidate and three Lakas supporters were the latest casualties in the rising incidence of election-related violence. A Lakas candidate for councilor who was campaigning in Davao Oreintal was shot dead by an unidentified man on Sunday, police said yesterday. The victim was identified as Gracio Espirituoso, 45. In Davao City, three persons died when the campaign headquarters of a Lakas congressional candidate burned down at dawn yesterday. Fire Officer Arman Carno of the Central Fire Station identified the fatalities as Lilibeth Deponsoy, 15; Lilibeth Baluya, 18; and her sister Vivian, 17. The victims were trapped inside the building housing the headquarters of Sonia Rodriguez, Lakas candidate for third congressional district. Police initially listed the cause of fire as faulty wiring but Insp. Rodolfo Alocelja of Bureau of Fire Protection told reporters arson was still a probable angle. (TODAY)

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