Cynthia Villar not eyeing presidency

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Cynthia Villar attributes her lead in the polls to her advocacies — livelihood, agriculture and food security. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14) — Senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar, who currently leads the Magic 12 in latest election data, said Tuesday she is not eyeing to be President.

“I want to go back to agriculture,” Villar told CNN Philippines. “I’m not thinking of anything except that.”

She attributed her lead in the polls to her advocacies — livelihood, agriculture and food security.

Villar bagged more than 24 million votes in latest poll results, a three-million difference from Grace Poe who is seeking Senate re-election. Poe, who topped the Senate race in the 2013 elections, had a bid to be the country’s leader in the 2016 polls but lost to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

“Beyond the senatorial race, which you can do through sipag and tiyaga [hard work], maybe good advocacies, the Presidency is a gift from God. It cannot be something that you will work for,” she said.

Villar’s husband, former Senator and Senate President Manny Villar, also ran for President in 2010 but lost to then Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

The top Senate bet said upon resumption of Congress she will do oversight functions for the rice tarriffication law, which grants ₱10 billion in appropriations as a means to protect the rice industry from price fluctuations. She said she will also re-file the measures on the disposition of the coco levy fund and the creation of the coconut industry development fund, which were vetoed by President Duterte.

“Forty-five percent of our farmers in the Philippines are rice farmers, and another 45 percent are coconut farmers,” Villar said. “If we are able to help them, be competitive, be profitable, and lift them out of poverty, then I would say I have done my job well.”

On administration-aligned Magic 12

The leading Senate candidate also weighed in on members of opposition slate Otso Diretso being shut out from the coveted 12 seats.

“Six of them are really not known. You know you cannot run for senator na wala kang [when you don’t have] name recall,” she said. “They have to do something that will make them familiar to Filipino voters.”

Villar said campaigning efforts must be redirected to the masa (common people), which makes up 85 percent of the voting population.

Kalimitan nga ‘yung mga movie stars ‘yung natatandaan nila [Often it’s movie stars they remember],” she explained. Two members of the current Magic 12 — former senator Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla who was recently acquitted of plunder charges — are former movie stars.

For the case of former Senator Mar Roxas and Senator Bam Aquino, who currently ranks 14th in the race, the President’s endorsement becomes a factor.

Villar was among the guest candidates in Duterte’s slate.

A working dynasty

Villar’s daughter, Camille, also won a Congressional seat for the lone district of Las Piñas.

The seat has been passed among members of the Villar family: first by Manny, then Cynthia, then Mark Villar, before he resigned to lead the Department of Public Works and Highways.

“That’s a position that has always been held by our family,” she said.

The incumbent senator then denied that they were a mere political dynasty, and clarified that they are a “working dynasty.”

“Yeah, but you know, in Metro Manila, you cannot say that your dynasty will last forever. You have to perform well also, and you have to do your work well,” she said. “I think we win because we work hard for it.”