Escudero to run as independent in 2013By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The leading candidate for now in next year’s senatorial elections prefers to run as an independent.
Sen. Francis Escudero has made his preference known amid reports that both the ruling Liberal Party and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) are eyeing him for their respective senatorial tickets.
Escudero, who is gunning for his second consecutive term, described his situation as “every candidate’s dream.”
“I’m an independent now so if I had any inclination, I would have already joined a party,” Escudero said in Filipino when asked about his inclination at a weekly Senate media forum.
But Escudero, who has allies both in the LP and UNA coalition, welcomed the idea of being included on both slates as a guest candidate.
“I would prefer to remain independent, but no man is an island and whatever help, support, invitation to a coalition [I could get], I would greatly welcome and accept it,” the 42-year-old senator said.
Escudero emerged as the leading candidate in the Pulse Asia Survey of prospective winners in the 2013 senatorial election.
The survey, conducted last May 20 to 26, showed 65.1 percent of the respondents had picked the senator as their top choice. Sen. Loren Legarda came in second with 63.6 percent, followed by Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano with 52.2 percent.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s son, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, placed fourth with 49.1 percent, followed by Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas III, who got 47.5 percent.
In a previous interview, former President Joseph Estrada expressed confidence that Escudero would land a spot on the UNA slate. Estrada is one of the three senior UNA leaders, alongside Enrile and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Escudero campaigned for Binay in the 2010 vice presidential race, and for Estrada’s long-time friend, the late Fernando Poe Jr., in the 2004 presidential election.
But the senator is also an ally of President Aquino, whose political party is expected to field its own lineup in next year’s senatorial race. Escudero is identified with Binay’s “Samar” faction in the administration.