Galunggong price? I’m a vegetarian – Jamby
By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) Updated February 09, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – “How much is galunggong? I don’t know. I’m a vegetarian.”
Sen. Jamby Madrigal, a presidential candidate who claims to have a pro-poor agenda, yesterday elicited reactions of disbelief and laughter at a university forum when she was unable to tell the price of galunggong (mackerel scad), considered a poor man’s fish.
“I think it’s about P60 pesos per kilo?” Madrigal said.
“You know I cannot answer you… I have to be honest because I am a vegetarian,” she said in a forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City yesterday.
She also does not know the price of salted egg, another poor man’s staple.
“Hindi po ako kumakain ng itlog (I do not eat eggs),” Madrigal said.
In the audience were members of media, businessmen, members of academe, and event sponsor, businessman Jaime Zobel de Ayala.
Madrigal was next tested on her knowledge of domestic expenses when she was asked: How much do you think a family of four needs to earn to be able to afford basic necessities and send their children to school?
“I think a breadwinner should earn a minimum of P15,000 per month. If it’s two working – the mother and father – then they would be taking home P30,000 a month and that would be their minimum to survive,” she said.
Madrigal also took the opportunity to attack fellow presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar, particularly on the proliferation of his infomercials.
But asked if she has a good thing to say about Villar, Madrigal said: “Maganda ang pag-tina ng buhok niya (His hair is dyed nicely).”
Aside from Madrigal, Sen. Richard Gordon, Councilor JC de los Reyes of Kapatiran Party also took potshots at Villar when answering questions pertaining to law, politics, social issues, economy and budget.
Other presidential candidates who attended the forum were Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Nicanor Perlas, administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro and Bro. Eddie Villanueva.
Former President Joseph Estrada sent regrets for not attending the forum.
Villar said he is glad Madrigal finally has something good to say about him.
“Ako ay masaya ngayon kasi mayroon nang nasabing maganda sa akin si Jamby (I’m very happy today because Jamby has something nice to say about me). It’s a happy day,” said Villar in an interview backstage at the UP Main Theater.
“Totoo naman (And it’s true) And I will tell my barber about it,” said Villar, whose hair was, as usual, neatly coiffed.
Leveling the playing field
Villar said he is using an aggressive media campaign to level the playing field.
The senator, listed as one of the richest in the country by Forbes magazine with $500 million in assets, said he is using mostly his own money for his infomercials.
“Napakahalaga, hindi naman ako artista, wala akong nanay na president, wala akong kapatid na artista. Kailangan din naman na ‘yong mahihirap nagsimula na kagaya ko ay bigyan ng pagkakataon na ma-level ang playing field (It’s important because I’m not a celebrity, I don’t have a mother who is a president, nor a sister who is an actress. Thos who started out poor like me should be given a chance to level the playing field),” he said, taking potshots at Aquino, whose mother is the late former President Corazon Aquino and whose sister is television host Kris Aquino-Yap.
“Pera ko naman ang ginagastos ko (Besides, I’m spending my own money),” he added.
Villar’s speaking time had run out when he was asked to identify his campaign contributors.
‘Insult to Filipino intelligence’
Madrigal, who filed the ethics complaint against Villar before the Senate for alleged double insertion in the budget of the C-5 road extension project, said Villar’s infomercials are insulting to voters’ intelligence.
“I agree completely that the jingles, the use of children, the use of actors when you have to pay P30 million just to endorse you is an insult to the Filipino intelligence,” Madrigal said, eliciting loud applause from the audience.
“That is why I have chosen to respect the law and not have political ads before. People who have spent P2 billion in ads, who think they can buy Malacañang, have no right. You will see my ads, I have no jingle. My ads are merely a reflection of my political platform and my political stand,” Madrigal added.
Madrigal, however, was asked to explain why she sought the endorsement of a popular actress to win a term in the Senate.
“Yes, and I agree. But now I have seen the folly of my ways. I will not repeat it because I have made a mistake but I do not believe that we should perpetuate lies, perpetuated by big budgets,” she said.
‘I don’t think businessmen would vote for me’
Madrigal was also asked: Why do you think businessmen should vote for you?
To which she said she is ready not to get votes from the business community.
“I don’t think businessmen would vote for me, especially those who own cartels and monopolies because I would really like to dismantle them. When you look at the poverty rate, and I disagree with Sec. Teodoro, we are an oligarchy country and we will never progress until you dismantle the oligarchy cartel, especially from the Marcos time,” she said.
Madrigal said about 90 percent of businessmen in the country had established their enterprises since the time of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
“Justice has not been done,” Madrigal said,
She also said that the income of the top 20 families in large corporations in the country is equal to the income of 10 million families.
“What’s that if not poverty? I am not courting the vote of the big businessmen; I am courting the vote of the people who want to change, the people who are mahihirap, and the people who want principled politics. I will not accept any contribution from big businessman. That is my policy, I am a nationalist and I will fight for sovereignty and I will fight for the people,” she said.