UNA consolidates support from local officials, alliesBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
IRIGA CITY—The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is consolidating local officials’ support in the run-up to the elections, and one of its candidates is working the phones to make sure friends and allies will stay with him up to May 13.
Former Sen. Ernesto Maceda is also burning rubber, visiting as many places as he can reach this week. That is an important strategy, he said.
Maceda is traveling with UNA candidates to Nueva Ecija and Rizal, places the alliance has not visited since the start of the campaign.
He said governors and mayors from all over the country had promised to support him, but he still needed to keep in touch with them by phone for assurance that their support remained.
Any time this week that he is not on the road or at a rally, he will be on the phone, Maceda said.
“It’s now more of telephone campaigning. You call your friends, the governors and mayors, those who have committed to you to remind them of it, or to make a last appeal,” Maceda told the Inquirer here on Sunday.
UNA campaign manager Toby Tiangco said he was confident that his group’s allies in the provinces would remain solidly behind the alliance and would remain committed to it up to the elections, unlike the situation with the administration’s Team PNoy where the rivalry between the Liberal Party (LP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) at the local level had led to the junking of some Palace senatorial candidates.
The NPC said last week that it never made a commitment to support all Team PNoy candidates.
Tiangco said he did not think there was a need for a loyalty check among members of UNA, as the group’s partners knew what they were getting into and what they could expect when they joined the alliance.
The support of local officials is crucial in any election, Tiangco said. Local officials usually handle the printing of local ballots and they campaign for national candidates at the grassroots level, he said.
“In the end, all politics is local. If you neglect those on the ground, those at the top would not do well,” Tiangco told the Inquirer by phone.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said the rivalry between the LP and the NPC, which stemmed from the two parties’ decision to each field candidates for the same local posts, was nothing new.
Binay said the “cracks” in Team PNoy, indicated by the latest backstabbing involving two candidates on the administration ticket, were also nothing new.
“Even before, it was clear that that group was not united…. So as far as we’re concerned, to many who are aware of it, that’s not a new development,” Binay said in a press conference.
According to him, it is difficult to have a coalition where the officials at the top dictate to the officials below what to do. Local candidates usually have their own groups and follow their own instincts, he said.
Network of allies
Maceda said having been a public official for many years, he had built a network of allies all over the country and he was now counting on that network’s support in his bid to return to the Senate.
Maceda, according to Tiangco, is a “walking political encyclopedia,” as he always knows which politician to go to for support anywhere in the country.