UNA bets lead in commissioned SWS surveyBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–The United Nationalist Alliance is eyeing a dominant showing in next year’s national elections in light of a recent nationwide survey showing it was poised to claim seven out of the 12 senatorial slots up for grabs.
Former President Joseph Estrada, a senior UNA leader, was upbeat over the results of the UNA-commissioned survey, which showed Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda leading the race at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
“It just goes to show that we are strong, that UNA will dominate the next senatorial election,” he said in Filipino in a phone interview on Tuesday.
The survey results, conducted by a prominent survey firm and made available to the INQUIRER by an UNA official, showed at least five other prospective UNA senatorial bets landing in the Magic 12: Rep. Jose Victor Ejercito (4th), Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr. (5th), Sen. Gregorio Honasan (6th), ex-Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri (9th), and Vice President Jejomar Binay’s daughter Nancy (12th).
Former Sen. Richard Gordon, who has secured a slot in the UNA slate, was at 13th place. Estrada, Gordon’s erstwhile political foe, said he would “campaign hard” to ensure Gordon’s victory in May next year.
Also in the Magic 12 were Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (3rd), Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (7th). Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr. (8th), and Representatives Cynthia Villar and Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara tied at 10th to 11th places.
These five possible candidates are identified with the administration. President Aquino’s Liberal Party is still in talks with the Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition for a possible coalition.
Estrada belittled the emerging coalition, especially the inclusion of NP.
“Kumakain ng alikabok ang NP,” he said, in apparent reference to the 2010 presidential election where he placed second and beat Sen. Manuel Villar, the NP standard bearer.
The UNA-commissioned survey was conducted shortly before the Pulsa Asia survey, which also showed seven prospective UNA candidates landing in the Magic 12. Estrada said the number would have been eight if Pimentel had not bolt UNA and joined the administration slate.
Curiously in the survey, Rep. Ejercito adopted his father’s screen name “Estrada.”
The elder Estrada, who was ousted from the presidency in 2001, said he had asked his son to do so to boost his chances in the senatorial race.
“I told him to use ‘Estrada’ instead of ‘Ejercito,’” Estrada said. “More or less, that’s the reason why he’s improving in the surveys.”
Rep. Tobias Tiangco, UNA secretary general, welcomed the positive results for UNA candidates. But with the elections still eight months away, he said “we should sustain our campaign and continue performing well.”
Estrada said UNA had so far filled up 10 of the 12 slots in its senatorial slate.
But he said it was possible that Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia might drop out of the race because of the graft charges filed recently against her in connection with a land purchase in Naga City. “It’s a possibility,” he said.
Like Garcia, who was 25th to 26th in UNA survey, other prospective UNA bets still had work to do.
Jose “Joey” De Venecia III was at 17th to 18th place, while former Sen. Ernesto Maceda was at 21st to 22nd, Rep. Milagros Magsaysay at 24th, Grace Poe Llamanzares at 27th to 28th, and Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian at 30th.