MANILA, Philippines—The ruling Liberal Party is not taking any chances despite the strong showing of its Team PNoy candidates in the voter preference surveys.
“We are running scared, which is important,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
Lacierda explained that the administration “cannot campaign on a perspective that we’re winning already” despite the latest Pulse Asia survey showing the administration Team PNoy’s dominance of the race—11 candidates from Team PNoy and five from the rival United Nationalist Alliance have a statistical chance of winning a Senate seat.
“We should be running scared, when you’re campaigning, until Election Day. We should campaign even harder,” said Lacierda.
“Better to be campaigning hard rather than patting ourselves before the day of the election,” he said.
At the same time, Lacierda said he found laughable Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco’s description of Team PNoy as “panicking” less than two weeks before the elections and conducting a loyalty check of its local allies. “That’s not true,” he said.
“We are panicking because (we are) 9-3?” he said, pointing out that UNA should be the one that should be worried.
“There is no loyalty check that is happening now. I think they’re just deflecting the issues right now on the performance of the UNA candidates vis-à-vis the Team PNoy candidates based on the surveys that have just been released,” he said.
Tiangco, the UNA campaign manager, said “loyalty checks are a sign of desperation and panic. They cannot control their leaders who are supporting UNA,” citing the case of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.
Salceda, the LP chairman for Bicol, was reported to have thrown his support behind some UNA candidates, particularly Nancy Binay and Jack Enrile, when UNA campaigned in Albay last Sunday.
Lacierda said President Aquino had already made it clear that he remained confident of the “full backing” of Salceda for his handpicked senatorial candidates.
An LP official on Wednesday said that even if Aquino has accepted his explanation for hosting the rival UNA in his turf, Salceda may still have to face a party investigation of his actions that some have interpreted as an endorsement of the opposition senatorial candidates.
Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, the LP secretary-general, said that the outcome of the election in the Bicol region, particularly in Albay, will show whether Salceda has indeed turned his back on the party and its ideals.
“At this point, it is unfair to judge Governor Salceda on the basis of reports that he was with UNA during their sortie in Albay. We don’t know the circumstances that led to this situation, assuming the reports are true,” Sarmiento said in a statement.
“As you well know, there are a lot of political intrigues during the election period,” he said.
Sarmiento said the LP leadership will certainly take up the matter of Salceda’s actuations around UNA leaders and candidates in Albay “to determine if there is even a basis to conduct an investigation of the incident.”