• ‘Former foes’ support for Roxas, Robredo is redemption’

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    ADMINISTRATION presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and his running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo are open to support from former political foes, who are willing to be redeemed.

    This according to Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III, referring to the endorsement done by Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda to the Roxas-Robredo tandem in San Fernando City, the provincial capital, this week.

    Pineda, a former ally of former President later on Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is the wife of the alleged jueteng lord Bong Pineda.

    Jueteng is an illegal numbers game.

    The Pineda couple’s son, Dennis, is the vice governor of Pampanga and has also thrown his support for Roxas and Robredo, who are running in the May 9 synchronized local and national elections under the Liberal Party (LP).

    While Gov. Pineda was never an administration ally until this year, Quezon said, the Aquino administration did not deprive Pampanga of the national government programs, something that Pineda also acknowledged during her endorsement of the Roxas-Robredo tandem in the presence of President Benigno Aquino III.

    The governor credited the ruling administration for the inclusion of 50,000 families in Pampanga under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or the Conditional Cash Transfer Program for the Poor; the P300-million budget for healthcare services under Philhealth that benefited 136,000 families over the last three years; and the infrastructure programs, including roads.

    “The President has already said that regardless of your political affiliation, if you are going to join his good governance platform and show that you are adhering to its principles, then redemption is open to anyone,” Quezon said in an interview with a state-run radio.

    Prior this week’s endorsement, Pineda appeared in the President’s last State-of-the-Nation Address video in July, in which she testified that the national government has always been helpful to the local government of Pampanga in its delivery of social services to residents.

    Pampanga has 1.28 million registered voters.

    Robredo’s late husband Jess was once a Naga City mayor who founded “Kaya Natin” (We Can), a movement for good governance, in July 2008 alongside then-Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio and Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca.

    Panlilio is a bitter rival of the Pinedas in Pampanga and a staunch critic of jueteng. Panlilio beat Pineda for the Pampanga governorship in 2007, only to be defeated in his reelection bid three years after.

    Jesse Robredo, who served as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government when President Aquino assumed power in June 2010, died in a plane crash in Masbate last Aug. 2012.

    Jesse’s death made Leni enter politics, winning a Camarines Sur Congressional seat in May 2013 before being drafted by Roxas as his running mate last October. LLANESCA PANTI

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