Malacañang on Wednesday accused the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of riding on the popularity of President Aquino and “confusing” the public by claiming that it is not really against the President.
In projecting itself as a “constructive opposition,” the rival coalition was trying to confuse the electorate on its political allegiances, said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
“They don’t want to go against the President because of (his high) approval rating. To be seen as going against the President is to diminish their chances of being elected,” Lacierda told a Palace briefing Wednesday.
UNA, an election coalition of former President Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino and Vice President Jejomar Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, is ranged against the Liberal Party-led administration coalition in the 2013 polls.
Handpicked by Aquino
The LP senatorial candidates in the administration’s “Team Pinoy” were personally handpicked by the President.
According to Lacierda, the UNA candidates have not put forward a platform of government that would distinguish themselves from the administration slate.
“Those running under the (administration) coalition have proven themselves in the public and also in the private sector where they come from. You can identify each and every individual, and you make a judgment for yourself: Am I going to vote this particular individual?” Lacierda said.
“The President chose them, has said, ‘these are my people and these people will push (for) my reforms.’”
Lacierda questioned why, if the UNA was “supportive” of the Aquino administration, UNA secretary general and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco had testified in favor of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona at an administration-driven Senate impeachment trial in 2012.
He said UNA had also attacked the administration for the six-month suspension slapped on Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia for allegedly usurping the authority of her late vice governor to hire contractual employees.
Roxas in 2016?
In the same Palace briefing, Lacierda tossed back to the LP the issue of the possible presidential candidacy in 2016 of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, who lost the vice presidency to Binay in 2010.
“That’s an LP matter. Let the LP respond to it,” he said.
But he stressed that so far as Roxas was concerned, “he has the mandate to perform his duties” as interior secretary regardless of his political plans.
“I spoke to Secretary Roxas. He said ‘I have an obligation, I have a mandate to perform, and I intend to to it regardless of 2016.’ So he isn’t thinking all these things in preparation for 2016 because there are (other) concerns right now,” Lacierda said.
In an apparent attempt to draw the battle lines between the administration’s Team Pinoy and the UNA, Sen. Frank Drilon told a late-night ANC television interview on Wednesday that the LP was drafting Roxas, the LP president-on-leave, as its presidential candidate in 2016 amid expectations that the UNA would rally behind Binay’s presidential ambitions.
Sought for comment Wednesday, Roxas said he himself was taken aback by Drilon’s announcement that the LP was drafting him as its presidential candidate in 2016.
“Maybe that’s his (Drilon’s) plan or projection. But I am focused on my work to address criminality and this doesn’t cross my mind,” Roxas said in a text message. With a report from Norman Bordadora