CALAMBA CITY—Amid speculation that the Arroyo administration has thrown its support to the Nacionalista Party, NP standard-bearer Manuel Villar and President Macapagal-Arroyo were in this Laguna city, about five hours apart, at the start of the campaign period for national positions on Tuesday.
Villar, running mate Loren Legarda and NP senatorial candidates were here for their proclamation rally.
Ms Arroyo was also here on the same day to launch her “Education for All” legacy campaign.
The President came past 9 a.m. and left about an hour later. The wannabe was to preside over his proclamation rally at 3 p.m.
Ms Arroyo made herself absent in the proclamation rally of her official candidate for president, Gilbert Teodoro.
Palace and NP officials, however, brushed aside the coincidence as simply that—coincidence.
Agnes Frogoso, head of the team that handles NP schedules, said in a phone interview she wasn’t aware that Ms Arroyo would also be here.
She said Villar’s party had a separate itinerary. Villar’s group went to the city market and St. John the Baptist Church before proceeding to the city plaza for the rally.
Villar was earlier quoted as saying NP chose this city as rally venue because it was the birthplace of national hero Jose Rizal and “the cradle of heroes is always the best springboard of change.”
Calamba City is also vote-rich with a voting population of 189,046.
Palace officials said they were also unaware of the NP rally.
“We have no idea (about NP’s sortie),” said Saul Pa-a, of the Malacañang Media Accreditation and Relations Office, in a separate phone interview.
Ms Arroyo visited Real Elementary School in Barangay Real and discussed Executive Order No. 685 that directed the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to include five-year olds in day care curricula nationwide.
The ‘Education for All’ agenda, according to Ms Arroyo, seeks to make early childhood development part of mainstream education. With Ms Arroyo was Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.
Lapus said the national government took care of P1.6 billion in expenses of public schools that used to be shouldered by local government units and local parent-teachers associations.
Ms Arroyo said the government hired 60,000 more teachers, while P1.5 billion was already allotted for training public school teachers.
“A good education is key to a better life, the great equalizer that allows every young Filipino a chance to realize their dreams,” she said. Clarice Colting-Pulumbarit, Maricar Cinco and Karen Lapitan, Inquirer Southern Luzon