Oplan ‘Save the Prince’? Bam Aquino defends rise

Team PNoy bet Bam Aquino credits his rise in surveys to hard work and the endorsement of his cousin, President Benigno Aquino III

BIGGEST GAINER. Team PNoy's Bam Aquino, the biggest gainer in recent surveys, speaks to a crowd in Misamis Oriental. FILE PHOTO by Natashya Gutierrez.

MANILA, Philippines – A secret operation? Team PNoy argues it’s just plain hard work.

A day after the latest Pulse Asia survey revealed the meteoric rise of Team PNoy bet and presidential cousin Bam Aquino, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Secretary-General Toby Tiangco questioned his progress.

Tiangco joked on Tuesday, March 12, it was a “‘God Save the Prince’ operation” that lifted Aquino tremendously. He implied the President’s coalition was dumping some candidates in favor of others, including Bam Aquino, who improved his survey rankings from 13th-15th in January to 4th-9th in February.

The comment did not sit well with the administration coalition, Team PNoy.

Team PNoy spokesperson Miro Quimbo said the allegations were unfair for Aquino, who has received various recognitions for his achievements. He also criticized UNA for its supposedly negative campaigning.

“The reason why we’re faring better in surveys is because we raise our candidates instead of looking the other side,” he said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart on Wednesday, March 13.

He added, “Whenever they see our bets advancing in ratings, they attack,” a strategy that he said will hurt UNA, and will help surveys stay the same.

The 35-year-old Aquino himself responded to criticisms in a Team PNoy sortie in Bulacan the same day.

“My rise in the latest survey of Pulse Asia was a result of perseverance and hard work. Working hard is a good strategy,” he said.

Aquino is the first Liberal Party member of the coalition to make it to the Magic 12. An earlier Social Weather Survey revealed a similar result for Aquino, in which he made it to the winning circle for the first time.

President’s power

Aside from hard work, Aquino offered a different explanation for his rise: the influence and high trust ratings of the President.

Never having denied the power of his last name and the benefits of his association with his cousin, Aquino also credited President Aquino for his improvement in ratings.

“Because of President Aquino’s endorsement, I believe the ratings of Team PNoy will continue to rise, including those of Risa Hontiveros, Jamby Madrigal and Jun Magsayay,” he said.

The 3 have yet to make the Magic 12.

Quimbo agreed with Aquino’s assessment, saying the surveys are “reflective of how the people perceive the President.”

But Tiangco remained unimpressed, dragging the younger Aquino’s father, Paul Aquino, into the picture.

Paul, the brother of President Aquino’s father, former senator Ninoy Aquino, served as the campaign manager of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He is now helping with Bam’s campaign.

Tiangco demanded Paul speak up about alleged cheating during Arroyo’s time.

“Bam and his father Paul Aquino served under the Arroyo administration. His father Paul Aquino, being the campaign manager of GMA, Bam is aware of his father’s role in the 2004 and 2007 elections that have been marred by wholesale electoral fraud,” he said in a statement.

“Wasn’t Paul Aquino rewarded and appointed as president and CEO of PNOC-EDC as a reward? Didn’t Bam serve as chairman of the NYC (National Youth Commission) during GMA’s time? I hope he speaks up on these issues.” – Rappler.com

More from Rappler’s 2013 Philippine elections coverage:

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