WHILE admitting that the Nacionalista Party has only a few local candidates and no candidates for governor and other important positions, senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla is still confident the Visayas will be a “swing vote” in favor of Sen. Manuel Villar.

In a press conference yesterday in Cebu City, Remulla said the party expects Cebu to play a big role in the May election. He said they also expect voters to support Villar, even if most of the local officials, including One Cebu head Gov. Gwen Garcia, have declared their support for former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro.

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“I think we have a very strong chance of winning. If you ask me for my unbiased opinion, and I don’t know if that is possible because I am a die-hard Nacionalista Party member, our chances of winning right now are getting stronger and stronger every day,” Remulla said.

Rising

In 2007, he recalled that Villar only placed sixth in the first survey on voters’ preference among the early presidential contenders. By 2008, he was either number four or number three in the surveys. By 2009, he became number one, Remulla said.

“Nang magkaroon ng bagyong Noynoy, (When Sen. Noynoy Aquino declared his candidacy) Villar was in the number two again. But he was behind Noynoy by 25 percent in October 2009, 20 percent in November, 19 percent at the start of December, and at present, he is behind Noynoy by 11 percent.”

He said the party is optimistic their standard-bearer will catch up. “And we expect that in the middle of March, the survey result will be even for Villar and Aquino. By then, it will be anybody’s ball game,” Remulla said.

The Volunteers for Manny Villar for President Movement will be launched today in the Grand Convention Center, he said. While the party still has no candidate for Cebu governor, it will field some local candidates and push for “parallel organizations.”

One possible reason President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo won a margin of over one million votes in Cebu in 2004 was that the major contenders for governor both supported her.

To-do list

As for his plans, Remulla said if elected in the Senate, he will work on legislation to protect journalists and safeguard the environment.

“It is a very big issue right here. The environment is very important, especially in Cebu. We know you have problems in water, lack of forest cover and all these environmental concerns. Environment will be a top issue for me to tackle when it comes to legislation,” Remulla said.

The former Cavite congressman also admitted the need to improve enforcement of “good laws” like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Solid Waste Management Act. (EOB)