MANILA, Philippines—The opposition United Nationalist Alliance will be challenging President Benigno Aquino III in his home province of Tarlac on Wednesday.
Deputy campaign manager Sherwin Gatchalian said one of its own senatorial candidates and the President’s aunt, Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, will lead her fellow UNA bets in courting Tarlac’s 700,000 voters. Cojuangco used to be the Tarlac governor.
According to Gatchalian, UNA is also banking on local allies to give them an edge in Tarlac in the coming midterm elections.
He said many local candidates in Tarlac have already expressed support for UNA’s senatorial lineup. He added that the President’s Liberal Party coalition had few local bets of its own in the province.
UNA candidate Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay pointed out that some other relatives of President Aquino are pitted against his own Team PNoy bets in the province. She pointed to Isa Cojuangco Suntay, a relative of the President, who is running against Victor Yap, the gubernatorial candidate of the LP-Nationalist People’s Coalition.
On the other hand, Yap’s running mate also happens to be a Cojuangco, Enrique Cojuangco Jr.
Tarlac, as far as UNA is concerned, is a “free-zone,” meaning the political parties that have coalesced to field UNA’s common set of national bets can support their own separate local candidates in the province, Gatchalian said in a statement.
“Tarlac is a free-zone and UNA believes the set-up will definitely benefit our senatorial candidates,” Gatchalian’s statement said.
Magsaysay said another reason she believes people in Tarlac will support UNA is because “many have yet to experience improved lives under the Aquino administration.”
“What I expect is not everybody in Tarlac is happy with what’s happening around the country,” Magsaysay told reporters.
All UNA candidates are expected to join the Tarlac sortie of the group today. Aside from Cojuangco and Magsaysay, the other UNA candidates are Nancy Binay, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Jack Enrile, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Ernesto Maceda, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.