MANILA, Philippines – The administration party’s decision to include Grace Poe-Llamanzares on its senatorial slate has prompted the United Nationalists Alliance to reconsider its policy against accepting “common” candidates.
Former President Joseph Estrada, a senior UNA leader, said Wednesday the coalition opted to “amend” the policy after Llamanzares, outgoing chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, agreed to run for the Senate under the Liberal Party.
“We amended that policy,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone, a few days after President Benigno Aquino III himself announced that the Liberal Party had drafted Llamanzares, daughter of the late Fernando Poe Jr., as one of its senatorial candidates.
Estrada, a long-time friend of Llamanzares’ father, said he asked his fellow UNA leaders to accommodate Llamanzares despite the coalition’s rule disallowing its senatorial candidates to also run on an opposing ticket.
Estrada said relaxing the rule would mean that as in the case of Llamanzares, UNA would also have no more problem with Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero running simultaneously on the administration slate.
Legarda is a logical inclusion on the LP ticket considering the administration party’s ongoing coalition talks with the senator’s Nationalist People’s Coalition. But Estrada said Legarda had also committed to run under UNA.
As for Escudero, neither the LP nor UNA has categorically stated that he would be part of its 2013 ticket.
Now an independent, Escudero bolted the NPC in 2010 when he failed to get the party’s support for his planned presidential run. He ended up campaigning for Mr. Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay, a senior UNA leader.
Estrada said Llamanzares sought his blessings before agreeing to join the LP senatorial slate.
“She asked permission from me. I said, ‘Ok, you will be our common candidate,’” he said in Filipino.
Estrada said he was leaving it to Llamanzares to decide whether to campaign with UNA or with LP. “It’s up to her. As you know, her father was more than a brother to me. I can’t leave her behind,” he said.
Estrada acknowledged that Llamanzares might have an “advantage” by running with the administration. But he noted that his endorsement and that of Binay could easily overwhelm that of the President as per the results of a previous Pulse Asia Survey.
That a number of senatorial aspirants could end up being common candidates of UNA and LP was the reason behind the previous proposal to form a “super” coalition between the two political groups, he said. But with the LP not biting the proposal, Estrada said it was now “dead.”