UNA drops Chiz, Loren, Grace
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2013 - 10:26am

MANILA, Philippines - The United Nationalist Alliance on Thursday announced that it has dropped re-electionists Loren Legarda and Francis "Chiz" Escudero and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares from its senatorial ticket.

"The United Nationalist Alliance has decided that it is no longer obligated to include the names of Chiz Escudero, Loren Legarda and Grace Poe-Llamanzares in its list of candidates," Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, campaign manager of UNA, said in a statement.

Tiangco said UNA's executive committee decided to drop the three candidates from the coalition's list for not taking "any concrete moves or extended meaningful gesture to assure that they will live up to their commitments."

He said that the three candidates had assured UNA that they will soon join its sorties.

Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares are also running under the ticket of President Benigno Aquino III's Liberal Party.

"We tried our best to accommodate them. We know that the LP, through Sen. Franklin Drilon, has warned them repeatedly about joining our election activities. We have held on to their assurances that they will join us sooner or later," Tiangco said.

He added: "It is clear that they have made up their minds. We need to move on."

Aside from LP and UNA, Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares are also guest candidates of Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan) party, led by independent senatorial candidate Teodoro "Teddy" Casiño.

Legarda and Escudero have been topping senatorial surveys. Meanwhile, it is Llamanzares' first time to run for senator.

Several candidates running under UNA had said that dropping the names of the three candidates will not affect their campaign for the coming May

Big loss

Escudero admitted that being dropped from UNA's senatorial ticket is a "big loss" to his re-election campaign.

"It's their right. I will respect whatever their decision but on my part, it's a big loss. I can do nothing if that's their decision," he said.

Llamanzares, meanwhile, claimed that there was no agreement between her and UNA that she should campaign with its senatorial candidates.

She said that she was saddened by UNA's decision to drop her from its list of candidates.

”Of course, it’s sad because I was adopted by UNA without any condition. I was not informed when they adopted us that I should also campaign with them,” she said.

For her part, Legarda said she will continue to be grateful to UNA for the support it has given to her.

“I am grateful for the opportunity extended by UNA to me. I regret their decision to drop the common candidates from the slate, but I respect it and maintain my high regard for the leadership of UNA,” Legarda said.

“More than us politicians, this campaign is about the Filipino people and their needs.  I will continue to respect President Estrada, Vice President Binay, and Senate President Enrile,” she added.

Inevitable

Team PNoy spokesperson Miro Quimbo, meanwhile, said that their group has been expecting UNA to drop the three candidates from its list.

"We’re surprised that it took them this long to realize this," Quimbo said, citing the opposition coalition’s failure to force the three candidates to appear in their rallies.

"It is nothing but a confirmation of what we’ve been saying all along – that the three candidates have always been candidates of Team PNoy and that the opposition was simply adopting them to enable it to form a complete slate," he added.

Quimbo said the three chose the administration's coalition "because they believe in President Aquino’s ‘tuwid na daan’ program and reform agenda, as well as the platform-oriented campaign of Team PNoy."

"The lines are now even clearer with the departure of the three candidates from UNA. Team PNoy is with the President, while UNA is the opposition. We hope that we can move forward and finally set aside this nagging issue regarding the three candidates so we can focus on the more important and bigger issues that this campaign should be discussing," he said. - with Christina Mendez and Dennis Carcamo

CAMPAIGN CANDIDATES CHIZ ESCUDERO CHRISTINA MENDEZ AND DENNIS CARCAMO ESCUDERO AND LLAMANZARES LEGARDA THREE UNA UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE
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