Estrada gloats: UNA foes ‘eating dust’ in surveysBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is now confident of dominating next year’s senatorial elections after a recent nationwide survey it commissioned showed it could win 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 Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero 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,” Estrada said in a phone interview Tuesday.
The survey results made available to the Philippine Daily 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-Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri (9th), and Vice President Jejomar Binay’s daughter Nancy Binay (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 III (8th), and Reps. 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 (NP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition for a possible coalition.
But Estrada belittled the emerging coalition, especially the inclusion of NP.
“Kumakain ng alikabok ang NP (NP is eating dust),” 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 Pulse Asia survey, which also showed seven prospective UNA candidates landing in the Magic 12.
Estrada said the number would have been eight if Pimentel did not bolt UNA and join the administration slate.
Curiously in the survey, Ejercito adopted his father’s screen name “Estrada.” The elder Estrada said he had asked his son to do so to boost his chances of winning in the senatorial race.
“I told him to use Estrada instead of Ejercito,” he 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.
According to Estrada, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia might drop out of the senatorial race because of the graft charges filed recently against her in connection with a controversial 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.