No more ‘common candidates’ for UNA in 2016
MANILA, Philippines—Senate aspirants wishing to run on the slate of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016 would have to make a full, firm commitment to his party and not straddle two groups, the secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance said Saturday.
UNA, which will field Binay as its bet for the presidency, does not want a repeat of its experience in the 2013 elections, when it initially shared three senatorial candidates—Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero and Grace Poe—with the administration’s Team P-Noy.
UNA subsequently dropped the three common candidates after they failed to attend its rallies but campaigned instead with the administration group, leaving the alliance with just nine senatorial bets.
UNA will now take an all-or-nothing position, according to Toby Tiangco, the alliance’s secretary general.
“It’s one of my responsibilities to make sure we won’t just ride on another group’s slate. We will need a full commitment. We won’t allow any more common candidates,” Tiangco told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
The senatorial candidates would also have to choose one side because the 2016 elections involve a race for the presidency as well, and these congressional hopefuls would be expected to campaign for the standard bearer, he said.
“They can’t be campaigning for two candidates” for the presidency, he said.
“We won’t allow a situation where we will campaign for the [senatorial] candidate, but he won’t campaign for us,” he added.
He also explained that having common candidates was possible during the 2013 elections because there was no presidential candidate to support.
But even then, he said, the other UNA senatorial candidates were not comfortable with the special arrangement of letting candidates run under the banner of two coalitions.
As it turned out, it was not a feasible set up.
“We were hoping we would be given equal treatment, but it was impossible,” he added.
Binay, who is going to be UNA’s standard bearer in 2016, earlier said he did not want a repeat of his 2013 experience when the alliance failed to fill up its 12-member senatorial slate due to lack of time. He said he intends to complete his lineup early.
He has identified Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao as one of those who would be on his senatorial slate.
Binay has begun his preparations for the 2016 race, and has bolted the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (PDP)-Laban to form another political party, which would be formally launched in June. The new party is expected to be part of UNA.
Meanwhile, Tiangco called on the President to ensure that the next commissioners he would appoint next year, following the expiration of the terms of Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes and commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, would not be affiliated with the Liberal Party and would be politically neutral and beyond reproach.
If not, the Comelec would be filled with the Presidents’ allies. Tiangco was concerned that the Comelec might give Binay’s party a hard time if it would be filled with officials connected with the ruling party.
“If you’re with the Liberal Party, why make things easier for your opponent when you can make things harder? That’s human nature. If you’re loyal to your party, can you make objective decisions regarding another party?” he said.