MANILA, Philippines—All nine United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial candidates are ready to face the most important survey—Monday’s elections—the coalition said Sunday as it battled last-minute black propaganda claiming that candidate Sen. Gregorio Honasan had backed out of the race.
Another candidate, Juan Miguel Zubiri, also deplored a “fake press release” claiming to be from his camp on which he supposedly disparaged rival candidate Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III over the latter’s family problems.
Honasan condemned the fictitious e-mail that circulated Sunday that said he had withdrawn his candidacy, but he added that he would rather not dwell on the identity of those behind it or the motive for the attack.
“None of them are man enough, brave enough to stand in front of us to confront us about all these issues,” he said over the phone.
“I’m just amazed at the viciousness of the way they’ve have been acting,” he added.
The reelectionist senator said he was not the type to quit a battle he had chosen.
“I am not one to give up on any battle or principle,” Honasa said in a separate statement.
Honasan said he was confident he had done his best in the campaign and had delivered his message directly to the people.
“I trust in their ultimate wisdom and judgment,” he added.
UNA said in a statement that the fake e-mail about Honasan was sent by “political operators” who wanted to derail his candidacy in the hope that this would benefit their clients. It did not name names.
Honasan was ranked 12th in the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations.
Like Honasan, Zubiri said he was also the target of a fake e-mail that appeared to stoke the rivalry between him and Pimentel.
Zubiri said he would ask the National Bureau of Investigation’s cybercrime group to investigate the e-mail and file the appropriate charges against those behind it.
The e-mail, purportedly from Zubiri, taunted Pimentel for having no accomplishments in the Senate and a broken marriage, and saying that he should just focus on his family life.
The animosity between the two stemmed from Zubiri benefiting from the electoral fraud that had initially kept Pimentel out of the Senate. Zubiri eventually quit his seat when Pimentel’s electoral protest began gaining traction.
The campaign heated up when Zubiri said in a public interview that Pimentel’s estranged spouse was a battered wife. Pimentel denied the claim.