General Admission

Why Villar emerged as No. 1 senator

By Al S. Mendoza

HERE are some secrets sprouting immediately after the May 13 elections.

They come mostly from the senatorial derby.

First, Cynthia Villar.

What was her chief weapon in topping the Senate race in a big rebound from her No. 8 finish in 2013?

“My boss was relentless in campaigning,” said Villar’s factotum to me.

She is a dear friend of a dear friend of mine.

Over lunch of Chinese cuisine, she bared to me Villar’s campaign style.

“I have not seen her campaign this hard,” she said.

Did she over-campaign?

“She was doing five events a day while her teammates were just doing one event a day,” she said.

What five events?

“Five provinces, I mean,” she said.

No one could match her perseverance.

“They were all eating her dusts,” she said. 

It was Villar’s staffers that were huffing and puffing from the pace the senator was setting.

“But, Ma’am, we were in Bacolod only last week,” she recalled telling the senator one time.

Villar’s reply? 

“I don’t care.  There is no such thing as over-campaigning.”

Villar would never rest.

“We went to Bacolod eight times,” the aide said to me.

And then this.

“We were in Pangasinan five times,” she said.  “We recognize the tremendous help extended to us by Congressman Baby (Arenas).”

She also expressed gratitude to other political bigwigs in Pangasinan.

“Special mention goes to Mayor Guico of Binalonan and Mayor Quiambao of Bayambang,” she said.  “The senator could not thank them enough.”

But while Baby routed her foe in the third district derby and Quiambao won running away in Bayambang, Guico’s close win over incumbent fifth district congressman Amado “Espines” Espino was considered a huge upset.

It was Espines’ first ever political setback after scoring impressive victories as congressman of the second district and as governor of our province.

Espines had almost a vise-like grip on both positions, having held them in nine straight years each.

But if it’s any consolation, Espines’ sons Pogi and Jumel had emerged victorious—Pogi as our reelected governor and Jumel as the new representative of the second district (my district).

Likewise, Espines’ wife won as mayor of Bugallon, replacing her son, the congressman-elect Jumel.

OK, ever wondered why Bong Revilla and Imee Marcos won despite their tarnished reputations?

Imprisoned Bong still facing graft charges and Imee smarting from her exposed fake claims of earning degrees from Princeton and UP-Diliman?

Now this: I was told they employed SVS—Single Voting Scheme.

Senatorial candidate Jiggy Manicad first exposed Bong’s “junking spin against his teammates like me.”

In their solo sorties, Bong and Imee each asked a voter to just “vote for me,” with their sample ballot containing only their names in it.

Reputation?  Hello!

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