UNA won’t replace common bets

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star

BALANGA, Bataan , Philippines  â€“ The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is not adopting Jesus is Lord (JIL) leader Eddie Villanueva, Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño to replace the three junked common candidates.

Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary-general and campaign manager, said yesterday that the alliance holds in high regard Villanueva, Hagedorn and Casiño, but the three will not be drafted as guest candidates.

Tiangco said UNA is relieved that it has already freed itself from its obligation to campaign for Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

On Thursday, UNA said it “is no longer obligated” to include the three after they failed to show up at the coalition’s campaign sorties.

Former President Joseph Estrada said that the Liberal Party (LP)’s decision not to allow the three common candidates to join UNA campaign sorties triggered the decision to drop them from its senatorial slate.

“LP did not allow them to join UNA’s campaign sorties. So it’s better not to include them. They are joining LP’s rallies, but they are not coming to UNA’s,” Estrada said.

He said UNA did not impose any rules on the three guest candidates preventing them from joining LP rallies.

However, Estrada said he will continue to support the candidacy of Poe, his goddaughter, in his personal capacity.

“Legarda and Escudero are close to me, while Grace is my goddaughter. Legarda is my long-time friend, while Escudero is also my godson. I am saddened that they were dropped from UNA,” he said.

“We called them common candidates because we want them to win. But it would not be good if we will act like we are begging them to join us,” Estrada added.  

Poe, interviewed on television, said she and Estrada are still talking to each other. 

“Thanks for your support. But I did not ask to be adopted by UNA. I am surprised. I don’t expect that we will talk here (on air). I was expecting that you will call me and I will call you,” she said, adding that she is overwhelmed by the support of her godfather.

Poe said that there are members of UNA who do not want her.

However, UNA candidate Mitos Magsaysay said Poe should “move on” and focus on her campaign and stop talking about the party’s decision to drop them because it was a collective decision.

Magsaysay also expressed confidence that UNA’s senatorial slate remains strong despite the decision to drop the three common candidates. 

Drilon: It’s all UNA’s decision

Meanwhile, LP chairman and Team PNoy campaign manager Sen. Franklin Drilon said the LP had nothing to do with the decision of UNA to drop Escudero, Legarda and Poe.

“That the UNA made decisions on them is a matter that we have no control over. We move on from here,” Drilon, who led the Team PNoy sorties in four key cities of Negros Occidental yesterday, said.

Drilon was reacting to Tiangco‘s statement that “UNA tried its best to accommodate the three, but the LP, through Drilon, has warned them repeatedly about joining our election activities.” 

“From the very start they stood on the basis of the platform of the President and you must admire them for not being worried about the old adage ‘politics is addition.’ They refrained from going to the rallies of UNA and we should commend them for (that),” he said.  

Drilon said the three were never with UNA because they have always been administration candidates.

“From the very start they (UNA) knew I was (with) NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition), and I would not leave my party. Since 2007 I’ve not changed party,” Legarda said, adding that she harbors no ill feelings towards UNA. 

Drilon said they are hopeful that Team PNoy will have a 12-0 victory on May 13 because they have shown that the platforms and programs of President Aquino have benefited the people. 

He expressed confidence that the administration coalition will get a broad base of support in Negros Occidental.

Negros Occidental, including Bacolod, has a voting population of 1.57 million, the largest in Western Visayas. This province delivered one of the largest votes for President Aquino in 2012.  

Initial expenses

In a related development, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said that UNA spent less than P1 million for its proclamation rally at Plaza Independencia in Cebu City last Feb. 12. 

Based on the Statement of Expenses on Public Rally filed by UNA with the Comelec, the group used a total of P842,224.66 during the Cebu rally. 

The report signed by Tiangco showed that businessman William Gatchalian of Valenzuela City contributed P949,625 for “hotel accommodation.” – Paolo Romero, Danny Dangcalan, Sheila Crisostomo



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