Leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance concede that the coalition is thoroughly outgunned by President Aquino’s Liberal Party in the local elections in May based on the number of candidates.
The LP is fielding a total of 158 aspirants for seats in the House of Representatives while the UNA has only 58, based on records made available by Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA’s campaign manager and secretary general.
The ruling party is likewise dominant in the race for city mayor and vice mayor, its candidates outnumbering those of UNA, 196-66.
But former President Joseph Estrada, one of the three senior UNA leaders, said he was unfazed by the prospect of the LP controlling local positions for the next three years.
“That’s expected because they are the ruling party. But we’ll see what happens when 2016 draws near,” he told the Inquirer on Tuesday night, referring to the presidential elections in three years.
Tiangco said he was expecting “realignments” among local leaders going into 2016.
“I spoke with a number of local officials and they told me they were staying put with the administration only because P-Noy is still the President,” he said.
“But come 2016, they said they would go for Binay,” he claimed, referring to the planned presidential run of Vice President Jejomar Binay, a top UNA leader.
“So it would be important for the Vice President to maintain his high trust and approval ratings,” he added.
Himself running for Manila mayor, Estrada said local candidates participating in midterm elections usually align themselves with the ruling party.
“They know better not to antagonize whoever is in Malacañang,” said the 75-year-old Estrada, who is up against the LP’s incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim.
Tiangco said the UNA opted not to field candidates in some posts held by LP officials because of the incumbent leaders’ track record.
“Maayos naman yung iba sa kanila kaya di na pinalabanan,” he said.
Among candidates for municipal mayor and vice mayor in Luzon, UNA has 17 while the LP has 143. The Nationalist People’s Coalition has 135 while the Nacionalista Party has 71. Both the NP and the NPC are part of the coalition formed by the LP for the senatorial race.
In the Visayas, the LP has 201 while the UNA has 129. The ruling party is also dominant in Mindanao with 126 candidates for town mayor and vice mayor compared to the UNA’s 20.