UNA rally eyes Cebu’s 2.5M votes, Gwen’s aid
Movie stars and a beauty queen will add glitter to the proclamation rally today of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) which kicks off its nationwide campaign in Cebu City with motorcades and a 5 p.m. proclamation rally of its senatorial candidates in Plaza Independencia.
“Hopefully we will get a 12-0 sweep. Hindi naman po masama ang managinip (It’s not wrong to dream.) ,” said candidate Nancy Binay in a press conference.
UNA has no Cebuano in its Senate lineup but is counting on help from its main ally Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
She will introduce Vice President Jejomar Binay in the rally while Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s support is evident in preparations for the stage, rally venue and traffic rerouting.
Binay said UNA decided to begin the campaign in Cebu, which has 2.5 million voters, because they consider this vote-rich province their bailiwick.
UNA has no Cebuano in their senate lineup after Governor Garcia dropped out in June but they consider her their main ally in Cebu.
“We want to highlight the province of Cebu and other cities,” said Binay, who added that her father and UNA leaders have not wavered in their support for suspended Cebu Governor Garcia.
Binay said showbiz siblings Ruffa and Richard Gutierrez would be a main draw in the team’s .
The beauty-queen actress and actor are children of talent manager Annabelle Rama who is UNA’s bet for Cebu City north district congressman.
Binay said that Rama would bring her entire family during the rally, including her husband, 1960s teen heartthrob Eddie Gutierrez.
A side controversy in the UNA activity is the question of the use of Cebu city government resources in preparations for the proclamation rally.
A city government truck delivered wooden platforms to the site at 3 p.m. yesterday , a scene photographed by Cebu Daily News while City Hall tents were set up behind the stage as a holding area for VIPs.
“These things can’t be avoided, ” Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said when sought for comment, saying that Vice President Binay is the second highest official in the country and so his presence requires attention.
Rama did not attend the press conference. He was the one who invited cousin Annabelle Rama to run for the congressional post in Cebu City.
Nancy Binay said that while they are coordinating with Mayor Rama, UNA funds was spent for the 10 meters by 20 meters stage.
“We are using UNA funds, not city government funds. These are contributions from private sector donors,” said Binay.
“The stage was not built by the city government and we are not using city government vehicles. I have been at the rally site for an inspection.”
Councilor Jose Daluz III, Team Rama general campaign manager, said he expects a crowd of at least 150, 000 in the rally and that they are leasing City Hall buses at P1, 200 each while some barangay and private vehicles will ferry UNA supporters to Plaza Independencia.
Among the prohibited acts in Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code is the “use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment, facilities owned or controlled by the government for an election campaign.”
Comelec 7 Regional Director Temmie Lambino said those who want to complain that the election law was violated should document the use of government resources and submit proof to his office.
“No government property should be used in any political rally,” he said.
While UNA is eying vote-rich Cebu, results of the 2010 elections show a different picture.
Most voters went for Benigno Aquino who won 759,938 votes or 54 percent of the total votes in Cebu province (his biggest haul nationwide).
In Cebu City he won 226,342 votes or 60 percent of the total votes in Cebu City.
His closest rival, former President Joseph Estrada, a founding partner of UNA, posted less than a tenth of Aquino’s vote tally in Cebu (67,578) and Cebu City (21,188 votes).
Vice President Binay, another UNA founding partner, also lost heavily in Cebu and Cebu City where 60 percent of the voters picked Mar Roxas.
Nancy Binay yesterday said UNA has strong faith that their Cebu allies led by suspended governor Garcia and Mayor Rama would help deliver the votes in Cebu.
She said the suspension and graft cases that Garcia is now facing was experienced before by her father who managed to overcome them.
She said she was confident that Garcia would also overcome these problems especially since she was getting legal advice from the vice president.
The “three kings” of the opposition – Vice President Binay, Estrada and senate president Juan Ponce Enrile – took a Monday evening flight to Cebu.
Three adopted senate candidates – Grace Poe Llamanzares, Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero – will not be ere for the rally. They will be attending the Liberal Party proclamation in Plaza Miranda in Manila and will instead send proxies for the Cebu rally.
Llamanzares will be represented by her son, Brian, while Legarda is sending her father, Antonio.
After a 7 a.m. mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, two motorcades will head to cities of Mandaue in the north and Talisay in the south.
Team A will go south with Vice President Jejomar Binay and senatorial candidates Jack Enrile, JV Ejercito, Miguel Zubiri and Mitos Magsaysay.
Team B will go north with Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Nancy Binay, Ernesto Maceda, Gringo Honasan, Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco and Dick Gordon.
Anticipating a big crowd, Cebu city government workers cleared the back of Fort San Pedro. Trees were trimmed and inspected to avoid having broken twigs fall on spectators. Electric connections were checked.
Personnel from the Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission deployed a boom truck to inspect trees near the plaza. Lights and sound systems were installed near the stage.
Philip Zafra, Rama’s chief of staff, inspected the venue at 3 p.m. “I’m just here to make sure that everything is in order and my boss will be safe during the rally,” he told CDN.
Shortly after, a canter truck arrived to unload wooden platforms. The truck with plate number SJR 609 arrived with BMS head Emiliano King in the front seat. UNA tarps were also set up./Doris Bongcac and Jhunnex Napallacan with Correspondent Edison A. delos Angeles