With the administration senatorial candidates coming out with a strong showing in the latest Social Weather Stations survey, President Aquino will be going all-out in campaigning for the Team Pinoy slate, ruling party leaders said Tuesday.
The opening salvo came in the ticket’s inaugural TV commercial where Mr. Aquino took a combative stance, alluding to the rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) bets as “pretenders” to his “tuwid na daan” (righteous path) campaign.
But the President was only getting started, it would seem.
“The President will not only be very visible in the ads. He will (also) be very active in the campaign, in sorties, but of course, without sacrificing governance,” said Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a member of the ruling Liberal Party.
Part of the plan is for Mr. Aquino to appear in individual ads of each of the administration candidates, said Marikina Rep. Romero “Miro” Quimbo, another LP member.
The President’s immense popularity does not scare the UNA’s Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, however.
He said the UNA has three “giant endorsers,” referring to Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his own father, deposed President and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada.
Like Mr. Aquino, the three UNA leaders also enjoy high trust ratings, the senator noted.
Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada said the LP was now focused on improving the standing of Team Pinoy candidates already in the Magic 12, and in pulling up the other coalition partners who are just outside the winning circle.
He dismissed the idea that the administration would “drop” the candidates who show very little chance of landing in the Top 12 in subsequent surveys.
“If we can push Cynthia Villar, (Sen. Antonio) Trillanes, Grace (Poe-Llamanzares) higher than (UNA candidates Sen.) Gringo (Honasan) and (former Sen.) Migz (Zubiri), that allows space for other (Team Pinoy) candidates,” he said.
In the latest SWS survey, Llamanzares and Trillanes were tied at 10th and 11th places, while Villar occupied 8th and 9th. Honasan was at 5th and 6th while Zubiri was at 7th.
Magic 12 push
“So the objective is to push those Team Pinoy (candidates) higher in the Magic 12 so that the UNA (bets) would go down,” Tañada said.
Five other administration candidates are outside the winning circle—Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (13th), Paolo “Bam” Aquino (15th), former senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. (16th), former senator Jamby Madrigal (17th), and Rissa Hontiveros (18th to 19th).
Besides Llamanzares, two other candidates that are “common” to UNA and Team Pinoy are in the winning circle, according to the SWS survey. Incumbents Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero placed first and second, respectively.
With seven of its candidates cracking the Top 12, Team Pinoy remains adamant against allowing Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares to campaign with UNA. So strict is the administration policy that none of them would be permitted to join a campaign sortie or appear in a TV ad.
“I think that was made clear before the President came out with the official list (of candidates),” Tañada said.
According to Quimbo, the Team Pinoy candidates are “specific individuals whom the President feels are in the best position not only to protect the [administration] programs but to actually pursue them zealously.”
“We don’t only need the Lower House. We need the Senate to be able to sing the same tune, not like a dictatorship, but at least to be on the same page as far as programs are concerned,” he added.
Asked why he appeared in the Team Pinoy TV ad and didn’t do so in the UNA ads, Escudero said he and other “common” candidates “weren’t included and weren’t invited.”
He appealed to the media not to cause any friction between him and the UNA camp.
“There have been too many quarrels in the world. Let’s no longer add to them,” he said.
Told of UNA spokesperson Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco’s reported remarks that “common” candidates refrain from appearing with the Team Pinoy slate if they couldn’t do the same with the UNA ticket, Escudero said he’d rather discuss the matter personally with the UNA leaders. With a report from Norman Bordadora