Corruption backlash extinguishes stars

Celebs running for office sent home by Philippine voters

MANILA — This time at the polls, the stars saw stars.

Following on the heels of the January ouster of president Joseph Estrada — a former movie star — on charges of graft and numbers running, Philippine voters, who have a history of putting entertainers in political office, this time sent many of them packing.

At least 20 present and former movie stars — many of them Estrada allies — plus two feuding former chiefs of the Movie and Television Ratings and Classification Board ran for mayoralty, congressional or senatorial posts in a high-profile manner.

Most were defeated, including box office winner Nora Aunor, who turned against Estrada at the height of the movement against him, and ex-censor chiefs Armida Siguion-Reyna and Manoling Morato.

Noted local columnist Conrado de Quiros of the Philippine Daily Inquirer called it “showbiz fatigue.”

Besides the fallout from Estrada’s exit, pundits say the movie stars may have also overlooked the strong political machinery of their opponents — or simply overestimated their own luster.

However, not all stars were left on the cutting room floor by voters. Vilma Santos, dubbed “the star for all seasons,” was lucky enough to run against a star — Aunor — and won another term as mayor in a southern Luzon province.

Television exposure also proved a most powerful political weapon. Noli de Castro, a veteran newscaster from the nation’s No. 1 network, ABS-CBN, won his senate contest.

Another ABS-CBN broadcaster, Ted Failon, dislodged the nephew of Imelda Marcos, ending her family’s dynastic hold on the province’s congressional seat.

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