Many people, especially in his hometown, were quite surprised with the announcement of Fr. Panlilio’s that he would run for governor. But those tired of traditional politics in Pampanga threw their support for him against his two rivals, Lilia Pineda, wife of suspected jueteng (numbers game) lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda, and former governor Mark Lapid, son of former senator Lito Lapid who ran and lost to Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati. Both Pineda and Lapid are known allies of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Weeks before the election, he announced that he would be taking a leave from priesthood since he has to focus on campaigning. After the last election return was canvassed, Panlilio won by a slim margin over Lilia Pineda
Now on its 17th year, the Inquirer’s Filipino of the Year honors a living Filipino who made the most positive impact the past year. Eligible to vote were Inquirer editors and assistant editors. There were 44 voters this year. Fr. Ed Panlilio topped the nominees with 20 followed closely by Chief Justice Reynato Puno with 15 votes. Other nominees were Justices Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta and Francisco Villaruz Jr. of the Sandiganbayan special division that tried and found ex-President Joseph Estrada guilty on two counts of plunder. (4); Sumilao farmers (2); Filipinas who made it to the summit of Mt. Everest.
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