MANILA, Philippines—The difference will be as clear as “black and white.”
On Day One of the campaign period, President Aquino’s Team Pnoy will draw a line to distinguish its candidates from those of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and leave no doubts in the minds of the electorate as to which is the better coalition, according to Liberal Party leaders.
It will also be up to the common candidates of both Team Pnoy and UNA—Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero, and former censors chief Grace Poe-Llamanzares—to follow this tack.
“This campaign is a marketing exercise where you sell a product. We’re selling our own brand of governance under President Aquino. We will try to make the distinction to the fullest extent so the choices will be very clear to the people,” said Transportation Secretary Joseph E.A. Abaya in a phone interview.
“We want to make it clear as black and white, and avoid areas of confusion. It will be clearer to the people if the color is black and white,” said Abaya, acting president of the ruling Liberal Party, which leads the Team Pnoy coalition.
Abaya earlier said a distinction would be made between the administration’s “daang matuwid” (straight path) and the opposition’s “own path.”
By projecting itself as a “constructive opposition,” UNA doesn’t want to distance itself from President Aquino who continues to be popular, and Team Pnoy wants this ruse exposed during the campaign period which starts Feb. 12, the LP officials say.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, LP vice president for policy and platform, challenged UNA to define itself vis à vis the administration.
“The very first question they should answer is: Are they opposition or not? If they are, what are they opposing in this administration, and what is their alternative?” Abad said in a text message.
Abad said the administration stood for good governance, poverty reduction and economic growth, the theme that Team Pnoy would harp on during the campaign.
“If you look at the national budget, those are not just words but are clearly translated into our budget priorities. Thus, the message, ‘kung walang corrupt walang mahirap (if there is no corruption there would be no poor).’ What does UNA have to say about that? As I said the burden of defining themselves rests with UNA,” he said.
Abaya said Team Pnoy’s campaign tack of distinguishing itself from UNA would start with its senatorial candidates.
“We will distinguish our 12 from theirs,” he said. “It’s up to the three to follow the same track. We won’t impose on them,” he added of Legarda, Escudero and Poe.
The three are also running with UNA.
Early on, Team PNoy had cautioned the common candidates against joining UNA’s campaign rallies.
Abaya, however, said Team PNoy would not resort to mudslinging.
“The LP never got into mudslinging. It will be a clean and fair fight. The LP is not known for under-the-belt tactics. The campaign will be issues based,” he said.