UNA drops ‘guest’ candidates

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05:03 AM February 21st, 2013

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By: Leila B. Salaverria, February 21st, 2013 05:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines—The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) made good on its threat not to campaign for the “common” candidates who refuse to join its sorties when it went barnstorming in Pampanga on Wednesday.

Neither the names nor the posters of the “common” candidates—Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero and Grace Poe-Llamanzares—were seen or heard at the Pampanga sortie after the three snubbed the first of UNA’s Luzon road shows.

No picture, poster or sticker of Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares was seen on the UNA stage. The tarpaulin containing the names of UNA candidates, prepared earlier by local Pampanga party officials, also did not bear the names of the three.

The candidates present in the Pampanga sortie were Nancy Binay, Richard Gordon, Ernesto Maceda, Mitos Magsaysay, Juan Miguel Zubiri, JV Ejercito and Margarita “Ting-Ting” Cojuangco. Jack Enrile and Gregorio Honasan were not at the motorcade and rally, but the other candidates mentioned their names.

On Monday, the UNA reached out to Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares by sending them invitations to its Pampanga sortie.

Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier said UNA would drop from its roster the common bets it shares with the administration Team PNoy coalition who would continue to ignore UNA events.

Campaign manager Toby Tiangco said UNA would no longer accept proxies to its rallies, and that it would only campaign for the common candidates who would personally show up.

On Wednesday, Tiangco said there was a possibility that independent candidate Eddie Villanueva would be adopted by UNA should it drop the common candidates.

Tiangco said he was quoting from a reply that deposed President Joseph Estrada gave when he was asked whether UNA could consider Villanueva as a replacement.

“He said it was possible, that was the context,” Tiangco said in a phone interview.

In Pampanga, the UNA candidates tried to court the Kapampangan voters by saying there was no need to keep on criticizing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a daughter of the province.

“All they do is return to the past and blame it for what happened,” said Ejercito of the administration coalition, which he said would make a “punching bag” of Arroyo whenever its ratings are down.

Zubiri said he did not think Arroyo should be an issue in the campaign. A former Arroyo partymate, Zubiri said previous political affiliations should not overshadow the candidates’ programs.

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