The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Thursday maintained it was a “constructive opposition” ready to support President Aquino despite party lines, as it blasted his spokesperson for accusing the coalition of “confusing the public” with its stance toward the ruling party’s leader.
In a statement, UNA candidates and officials said they were being “more of a true friend” to the President as they were capable of pointing out mistakes made by the administration instead of sugarcoating them.
“We are the new opposition—an opposition who will be supportive of matters which the President is undertaking and we will help when he needs our suggestions. But we will not stop exposing, telling the people about wrongs that are happening,” said Vice President Jejomar Binay.
His daughter Nancy, among UNA’s senatorial candidates, added: “UNA is like a true friend to P-Noy (Pres. Aquino). We can tell him when there’s something wrong.”
Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda had said Wednesday that UNA was “confusing” the public by maintaining its support for President Aquino despite being an opposition party.
He said UNA was just riding on Mr. Aquino’s popularity because going against the President could “diminish their chances of getting elected.”
UNA is a coalition between ousted President Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino and Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan. The two are joined in a leadership triumvirate by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
“The position mouthed by Secretary Lacierda is of one who has a very narrow mind and not mature enough to accept constructive criticism. We are here to make President Aquino succeed by honing his administration to be the best that it could be,” said Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, another UNA senatorial candidate.
“UNA is not an obstructive opposition group. We are here to provide the necessary checks and balances needed for democracy to thrive in this country,” she added.
And unless Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas’s allies speak with one voice, Binay would not be convinced he is running for president in 2016.
Not that it matters at this point, Binay said.
“Everybody has a right to be a candidate,” he told reporters on the sidelines of yesterday’s opening meeting of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (Gopac).
Binay admitted he was surprised by the sudden disclosure of Sen. Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of the Liberal Party’s senatorial candidates, that Roxas would be the party’s presidential candidate in 2016.
Roxas said he did not expect Drilon to make the statement. Drilon said he was only answering a question of a talk show host about the LP’s future plans.
Binay also denied Drilon’s allegation that UNA was out to make Mr. Aquino a “lame duck” president.
Binay said UNA remained supportive of Aquino’s “daang matuwid” and reform agenda.
“How can he be a lame duck when we support him,” the Vice President said in Filipino.
Binay said some quarters were just trying to create a wedge between Mr. Aquino and himself.
“They are sowing intrigue between the President and myself. I don’t know what their purpose is. There is no intrigue between us,” he added, also in Filipino.
Aquino had told reporters who accompanied him to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he did not have any “issues” with Binay.
Binay also downplayed administration claims UNA was taking advantage of the President’s popularity to boost the chances of its senatorial candidates in the coming elections.
“In the first place, we also rank high in the surveys, especially if you take the surveys of all three of us leaders of UNA—Binay, Enrile and Estrada—together,” the Vice President said.
Meanwhile, UNA’s senatorial candidates will have not just one but two proclamation rallies in the face of the major campaign offensive launched by Team Pinoy of the LP, Nacionalista Party, Akbayan, Nationalist People’s Coalition and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino coalition led by President Aquino.
Aside from a big Cebu kickoff rally on Feb. 12, UNA will stage another massive rally in Tondo, Manila, the bailiwick of Estrada. With a report from Christian V. Esguerra