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UNA ahead of LP in coalition building race

Who gets to consolidate their coalitions first and emerge a better and stronger vehicle for the 2013 elections?

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is in the thick of negotiations for a possible coalition with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) even as the ruling Liberal Party is still courting the Nacionalista Party (NP).

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Sen. Loren Legarda confirmed this Friday, saying she had been approached by the UNA, the coalition which joined the forces of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and deposed President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

Legarda, a member of the NPC since 2007, said she had been personally invited by Binay to run in the UNA senatorial slate.

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“We talked about it a few times. I will leave it to the Vice President and the UNA executive board to make the announcement. I am running with the NPC—that is for sure,” said Legarda.

Besides Legarda, Binay has already asked Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., another NPC member, to join the UNA ticket.

Cebu gov for senator

Binay and Estrada have also apparently scored in Cebu where Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has announced that she will be joining the UNA senatorial ticket.

Garcia, who is on her third and last term, accepted the offer of Binay and Estrada, according to her father, Rep. Pablo Garcia of Cebu’s 2nd district.

The elder Garcia said the offer was officially made by Binay and Estrada when Garcia attended the latter’s birthday party in Manila on April 20.

No Senate slate for NPC

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According to Legarda, the NPC would not be fielding a separate senatorial slate. “We cannot come up with a slate of 12,” she said.

Asked whether NPC members at the local level would be willing to coalesce with the UNA, Legarda said the party had yet to hold a national convention, though she said that based on their initial talks, “they will leave it to my decision on what coalition to join.”

Legarda topped the February-March survey on senatorial preferences conducted by Pulse Asia, while the younger Enrile placed fifth.

Reelectionist Senators Francis Escudero (ex-NPC) and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (NP) and Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas, former senator and losing vice-presidential candidate in 2010, took the second to fourth slots.

Only for election purposes

Legarda clarified that talks between the NPC and the UNA-allied parties were focused on coalition-building  and the midterm polls, and not a merger of the parties.

The alliance would only be for election purposes, entailing no changes in party affiliations, she said.

She recalled that in the 2004 elections, the opposition formed the Kilusan ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) composed of the NPC, the PDP-Laban, the PMP and the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino founded by Sen. Edgardo Angara.

At the time, Legarda was the running mate of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. when the latter ran for president under the KNP.

The coalition evolved into the United Opposition (UNO), later renamed the Genuine Opposition in the 2007 midterm elections.

Legarda said that now “UNO became UNA because we’re not in opposition to President Aquino, so (UNA) is an alliance of parties supportive of the administration.”

Binay earlier said that UNA was not exactly an opposition coalition, although it would be fielding a separate senatorial slate in 2013.

Cebu vote bank

Gwendolyn Garcia made the announcement about accepting the UNA draft following a meeting with officials of her One Cebu party on Thursday night.

Her father said the governor consulted party leaders first before deciding to accept the UNA offer.

He said there were some reservations about Garcia making a Senate run as it would be the first time that she would be contesting a national post.

But the congressman said he was confident of his daughter’s chances of making it to the magic 12.

For one, he said Garcia would be representing the local government units and is so far the only candidate from the Visayas.

The elder Garcia said the Visayas, which is the governor’s bailiwick, would be expected to deliver huge votes for his daughter.

He said that Cebu alone, including Cebu City, had a voting population of around 2.5 million.

Pablo Garcia is running for reelection in the second district. His son, Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district, who is on his second term, will not be seeking reelection but will instead make a bid to replace his sister as governor.

The Garcia family has kept its hold in the province since 1995 when Pablo Garcia was elected governor and served three consecutive terms until 2004. He was succeeded by his daughter who had served as his consultant before winning three terms as governor.

But there is talk that Gwendolyn, who ranked 45th in the Pulse Asia survey on the senatoriables, may decide to run for the 3rd district congressional seat if her ratings do not improve.

The rumors were stoked by the governor’s decision to transfer voter’s registration from Dumanjug town in the second district to Barili town in the 3rd district.

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