MANILA, Philippines—One of the three common candidates on the two rival coalitions’ senatorial slates said Monday they would put a premium on the Team PNoy proclamation rally in Manila over the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) campaign kickoff in Cebu.
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary general, said earlier he would talk to the three candidates to appeal that they give equal time to UNA.
Grace Poe said she received an invitation to join the UNA rally from Tiangco only last Friday.
“Two or three weeks ago, I already had a discussion with (Liberal Party campaign manager Sen. Franklin Drilon),” she said.
Team PNoy is the coalition led by President Aquino, while UNA is led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and deposed President Joseph Estrada.
“I think it’s been clear that we will be at the [Team PNoy] proclamation rally,” Poe told the Inquirer on the sidelines of a media forum at the Manila Diamond Hotel on Monday.
“It’s our priority because the LP invited us first and it will be physically impossible for us to be at both places,” she said.
Reelectionist Senators Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero are the two other Team PNoy senatorial bets who are also guest candidates on the UNA ticket.
Former Senate President Ernesto Maceda, another UNA senatorial candidate who was at the forum, said, “It’s their privilege to decide which platform to go to. But I hope they will also attend the next big rally of UNA.”
He said the UNA executive committee would meet to decide on a policy for guest candidates after the Feb. 12 proclamation rallies.
Maceda acknowledged that a special accommodation was made for Poe because she is the daughter of the late actor and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr., a longtime friend of Estrada’s.
“It was through his intercession that she was included,” Maceda said.
In a related development, Tiangco questioned Team PNoy’s earlier statement that the campaign period would make the difference between the two coalitions as clear as “black and white,” saying the allusion to color may have been directed at Vice President Jejomar Binay who is dark-skinned.
“It’s OK if we are not fair (skinned), if they are basing it on the color of the skin because the Vice President is dark and that’s why they’re saying it’s now a black and white battle,” said Tiangco in a statement.
“But we again appeal to the LP to go beyond innuendo about skin color and to stop pitting the Vice President against the President,” he said.
Tiangco was responding to Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya’s statement over the weekend that the LP would draw a clear line “between black and white” during the campaign period.
Tiangco went as far as to suggest Abaya’s comment was “a racial slur.” Abaya is acting president of the LP, which heads the Team PNoy coalition.
“As a member of the Cabinet, Abaya should have been more circumspect about making loose remarks that may be seen as a racial slur,” said Tiangco.