MANILA, Philippines – The movie star-turned-politician is silent on Corona, the High Court, and many legal and political issues. The high school graduate admits he will have difficulty keeping up with the impeachment trial. Lapid’s stand is uncertain but he has proven to be a loyal ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
During debates on the RH bill, he was quoted in GMA News as saying, “These senators are also lawyers who spent 10 years in law school while I spent 10 years practicing my stunts …. Much as I want to interpellate, my tongue is not used to English.” He added, “Wala akong magagawa kung ipinanganak ako nang mahirap, anak ng labandera eh, Hindi ako nakapag-aral dahil sa kahirapan.” (There’s nothing I can do because I was born poor, the son of a laundrywoman. I wasn’t able to go to school because of poverty.)
After becoming governor and vice governor of Pampanga, Lapid ran for the Senate in 2004. He joined the coalition of his cabalen, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan para sa Kinabukasan (K-4). In 2007, Lapid ran for Makati mayor but Jejomar Binay beat him by a wide margin. Lapid sought the post reportedly to bar the opposition then from holding anti-Arroyo protests in Makati. Lapid ran in 2010 under Lakas-Kampi-CMD.
Education: St. Catherine Academy in Porac, Pampanga (high school); Porac Central School in Pampanga (grade school). Lapid said he was unable to earn a college degree because he pursued acting.
Profession: movie actor
Current term: 2010 to 2016
Eligible for reelection? No. He is serving the second of the 2-consecutive term limit set by the Constitution. His term ends in 2016.
Political party: Lakas-Kampi-CMD
Plunder, graft cases:
In 2009, then Pampanga governor Fr. Eddie Panlilio filed a plunder case against Lapid, his son Mark and other former provincial officials. The Lapids were accused of failing to remit quarrying fees amounting to more than P500 million during their terms as governors. Then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, however, cleared the Lapids before she resigned in 2011.
The elder Lapid also faced graft charges over the alleged illegal collection of quarry fees in 1998. Yet the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that in 2004, the Ombudsman withdrew the case from the Sandiganbayan, saying the information was hearsay. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that during the Estrada administration, Lapid was also charged with graft for the alleged illegal purchase of real estate in San Fernando town, and his failure to account for over P2 million in cash advances.
Observers count Lapid as part of the bloc of Sen. Edgardo Angara which also includes Senators Loren Legarda and fellow actor-turned-lawmaker Bong Revilla. There were reports, though, that Lapid and Revilla bolted in July 2010 to support the bid of Sen. Francis Pangilinan to be senate president. Juan Ponce Enrile eventually got the post.
Position published or aired on Corona or on issues contained in the Articles of Impeachment:
Known to be silent and to shy away from debates, Lapid has not issued statements on Corona and the allegations against him.
Instead, the senator said he is studying the rules of procedure with the help of his lawyers. He is expected to struggle through the impeachment trial because of the language and legalities.
He said in a radio interview, “May mga nang-iinsulto… Sila nga abogado, may abogado pa eh. Ako pa kayang hindi abogado? (I have been receiving insults …. Those who are already lawyers seek the counsel of lawyers. What more for a non-lawyer like myself?). – Rappler.com
Sources: Senate website, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Standard Today, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, GMA News