UNA eyes Escudero, Maceda, Gordon in slateBy Fat Reyes
MANILA, Philippines – The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is eyeing Senator Francis Escudero and former senators Ernesto Maceda and Richard Gordon in its senatorial ticket for the 2013 elections.
Former president Joseph Estrada disclosed Thursday some of the names of aspirants that UNA is considering for its slate.
UNA was still not able to complete Thursday its senatorial line-up for the 2013 elections, and that it is choosing from about seven to eight aspirants to fill the five slots left in the ticket.
Estrada at first declined to name names. But when pressed by reporters, Estrada mentioned that aside from Escudero, Maceda and Gordon, UNA is also considering Lourdes “Nancy” Binay and Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian.
“There will be no announcement of additional senatorial candidates today (Thursday) because there are just five remaining slots and we have more than five aspirants,” Toby Tiangco, UNA Secretary General Representative, said at a press conference at the Coconut Palace after UNA’s regular executive committee monthly meeting.
According to Tiangco, UNA is choosing from about seven to eight aspirants to fill the vacant slots as he emphasized that there are factors being considered by UNA, particularly “political implications” and “personal sensitivities.”
“Since the space is getting smaller, [of course] we have to be more careful. We have to be sensitive to political implications, and we have to note the sensitivities of our allies also,” Tiangco said.
So far, the senatorial candidates for UNA are: San Juan Representative Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Zambales Representative Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, Jack Enrile, Senator Gregorio Honasan, Jose “Joey” de Venecia and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Tiangco said that they wanted to come up with the slate as soon as possible but that they had to consider several factors.
Estrada, for his part, said that they might come up with the complete names by August, two months before the October deadline for the filing of candidacies for the 2013 midterm elections.
Super coalition goes kaput
Also Thursday, Estrada ruled out the super coalition proposed between the Liberal Party and UNA.
When asked by reporters if the LP-UNA merger has failed, Estrada said: “Shelved na yun (It’s been shelved).”
If there’s anything that could save the super coalition, Estrada said: “Well it depends if President Noynoy (Benigno Aquino III) will agree.”
The former president was also quick to defend his son San Juan Representative JV Ejercito from criticisms for bringing up the idea of an LP-UNA coalition by saying that the latter’s proposition was done in good faith.
In a press conference, Ejercito clarified that what he said was that the super coalition was “ideal but impossible to happen.”
“What I really said was that would have been ideal for the President, for President Aquino to have a super coalition. But I also said that’s easier said than done, meaning that it’s impossible to happen because the Liberal Party has already forged a coalition and with UNA we have already announced some of our candidates,” Ejercito said.
Both Estrada and Ejercito deplored the arrogance of Malacañang’s spokesman and some LP’s stalwarts in dismissing the proposed coalition.
“One of the issues that cropped up was the reaction of various individuals and party leaders. The reactions of LP leaders were marked by arrogance and tend to show that their agenda for 2016 is more important than how they can help the President,” Ejercito said.
Estrada, for his part, said that he believes that Edwin Lacierda’s remarks were insulting for UNA.
“I believe so because the proposition was done in good faith, why will he immediately be very arrogant as if he knows…as if he’s a veteran politician? I don’t know. This is the first time, it’s only during the time of President [Aquino] that I saw his face,” Estrada said referring to Lacierda.
Tiangco also defended Ejercito. He said the San Juan lawmaker was only giving his opinions on what he thought was best for the country’s “political stability” and “unity.”
New UNA policy
Lawyer JV Bautista, UNA spokesman, said that the members of the committee agreed on a new policy rule for UNA candidates, which mandated them to “make a commitment to campaign only with UNA.”
“All other senatorial candidates who will be considered in the remaining slots of UNA must make a commitment that they will be and campaign only with UNA,” he said.
Bautista said they may be nominated as a guest candidate of another party but it must be very clear that they will only campaign with UNA.
“That was a policy decision that was adopted [Thursday] afternoon for all the rest of the other candidates,” Bautista said.
Bautista said that some of the other candidates may not be coming from the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) or PDP-Laban, and that they needed to observe the “particular rule that they can only campaign and share the stage with the UNA senatorial candidates.”
When asked why they had this “exclusivity principle,” Bautista said that they wanted to be clear that UNA candidates must adhere to the platforms and principles of UNA.
“UNA is not an alliance of convenience; this is an alliance of principles and platform,” Bautista said.
“The seven candidates who have already been announced are all aware of the platforms and principles of UNA. Those who belong to other political parties and are being considered have yet to learn these,” Bautista added.
When asked how the policy could possibly affect prospective candidates like Escudero, Tiangco said: “It was a general principle; it was already agreed by executive committee that UNA candidates will stay with UNA but if nominated by another party, we will allow them to accept it as long as they will not campaign with that other party.”
“It applies to all candidates of UNA,” Tiangco added.
Arbitration committee for local bets
Tiangco also pointed out than an “arbitration committee” was formed for the party’s local level candidates, and was intended to make sure that the local candidates would carry the name of UNA.
“The only personality that we will use from the national level down to the local level will be UNA. Not PDP-Laban, not PMP. It will be UNA so only one will be chosen there that’s why there will be an arbitration committee in case there are PMP or PDP candidates there. The arbitration committee will decide who the official candidate of UNA will be,” Tiangco said.
Tiangco said that the committee would be chaired by Undersecretary Benjamin Martinez. He said PDP-Laban would be represented by Jose Peping Cojuangco, and PMP would be represented by its secretary general lawyer Simeon Garcia. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had yet to nominate his representative to the committee.
UNA to compensate lack of funding with ‘hard work’
When asked about where they would source their campaign funds, Tiangco said: “We’re not discussing it because we might be reduced into tears.”
Representative Ongpong Plaza, for his part, readily admitted that, “Well to begin with UNA has no money.”
Bautista said that Vice President Jejomar Binay had mentioned that it was expected of the other party to have the resources since they were the party in power, but that UNA would compensate the lack with hard work.
“We cannot match the resources of the administration party so UNA will do it with hard work,” Bautista said.
Garcia suspension a political harassment?
Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who was also present at the conference, also made a statement on the reported suspension against her “possibly through” the Office of the Ombudsman or the Department of Interior and Local Government,” saying that the moves “certainly brings up suspicion of possible political harassment.”
“I’d like to say it really is a rather surprising turn of events and it would not seem to look as though this is totally an innocent move,” Garcia said.
“We are now right in the middle of what is beginning to be a political season and these kinds of moves, certainly will bring up suspicion of possible political harassment,” she added.
Bautista also noted that the development came about only when Garcia was being included in UNA’s senatorial line-up, prompting UNA to suspect that this could be a hatchet job on Garcia and UNA as part of the political season.
Bautista also warned the DILG that UNA was not going to take the developments “sitting down” and asked DILG to address “more important matters” other than the “political harassment” of local officials.
“We just want to give fair warning that UNA is not going to take this sitting down. We heard that the possible suspension of the governor would be coming from no less than the DILG. We hope that the DILG will take care more of governance, and peace and order, and other things that need to be looked after rather than the political harassment of local officials who are doing well but who have decided or opted to run in the senatorial slate of UNA who does not happen to be an administration party,” Bautista said.
Garcia was also going to give her last state of the province address on Friday, which she said would be attended by UNA officials and was expected to gather more than 7,000 people in attendance.