SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA - The administration coalition entered this province with a renewed sense of confidence that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will no longer affect 2013 polls here.
Team PNoy campaign manager Franklin Drilon said they have always considered Pampanga as a bailwick for the Liberal Party (LP)-led coalition despite Arroyo's presence in Lubao town.
"Pampanga has always been considered as a bailwick of Team PNoy because our president is a Kapampangan. We see no reason why that affection for Aquino family would cease," Drilon said.
"We are confident that this will be translated into a strong support for Team PNoy and (former Pampanga Governor) Among Ed (Panlilio)," he told reporters in a press conference.
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Drilon also admitted the administration coalition has deliberately included Guagua to test the waters if towns in the second district of the province, where Arroyo is deemed to still hold influence.
"We like the challenge here in Pampanga. We are working hard for the victory and because this will send a strong signal to the people," Drilon said.
Reelectionist Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said Team PNoy's strength in the province can only be gauged depending on the preference of each town.
"This shows the strength of LP and Team PNoy because sometimes you can only organize rallies like this in areas where there is a presence from the party," Pimentel told reporters in a separate interview.
"So if our sorties concentrate in GMA towns, it means that we have credible strength in most areas in Pampanga," he added.
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Panlilio, who is LP's bet for the gubenatorial race here, confirmed Arroyo's influence is waning in the province.
However, he revealed that LP faces another threat of losing to politicians that are supported by jueteng operators.
"Team PNoy candidates in the national election are very strong. We can see that the survey is really true in Pampanga...You can really see the shift, of veering away from Lakas," Panlilio told reporters.
"But our concern here is how to let our local candidates win in the elections," Panlilio said.
LP bet for the vice gubernatorial race, Maie Tiglao-Cayanan, said jueteng operators are pouring their financial support to the incumbent officials from 11 out of 21 towns here.
Tiglao-Cayanan said jueteng rakes P30 million worth of revenues a day, which provides more than enough money to supports candidates opposing LP bets.
"Sometimes, they even support two candidates in one town and we only have 10 out of 21 incumbent mayors in Pampanga," Tiglao-Cayanan said.
The Philippines is to upgrade a navy base facing disputed South China Sea waters to serve the extra ships being acquired to protect its territory, the military said Thursday. Navy spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Gregory Fabic said the military would build a 500-million-peso ($11.2 million) port at Ulugan Bay, the Philippine military base nearest to the Spratly Islands. President Benigno Aquino is set to visit the base on May 20 to launch the upgrading, Fabic added. In recent years, the …