MANILA, Philippines --- The United Nationalist Alliance has no plans of adopting three new guest candidates to replace the ones they had formally dropped last Thursday, UNA Secretary General Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco yesterday said.
In a statement, Tiangco said the UNA coalition has no intention of bringing in three senatorial candidates running an independent campaign to fill in the vacancies left by Senators Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero and former Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) Chair Grace Poe Llamanzares.
Instead of fielding a complete 12-0 senatorial slate, the Executive Committee of UNA is content on endorsing the candidacies of the nine candidates that are committed to join the coalition's cause.
Speculations abound that UNA is willing to embrace Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas, Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn, and Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino of the Makabayan Party into their camp.
Villanueva said former President Joseph Estrada had earlier proposed to him the possibility of joining the UNA ticket but the religious leader said he would weigh the invitation and consult with his Bangon Pilipinas party first.
But while UNA has high regard for the candidacies of the three independent candidates, Tiangco clarified they have no standing invitation to the three to join their ticket.
"UNA holds in high regard the candidacies of Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Mayor Edward Hagedorn, and Rep. Teddy Casino," Tiangco said.
Apparently unaware of the UNA plan, re-electionist Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III branded yesterday as a "sign of weakness" the opposition's move to scout for three other candidates to
complete its senatorial line-up.
"If you cannot come up with a complete list, it is a sign of being weak," he told reporters.
UNA In Bataan
Yesterday, UNA senatorial candidates had a whistle-stop campaign in Balanga City, Bataan despite heavy rains.
Those who joined the campaign sortie were Nancy Binay, Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, former Sen. Dick Gordon, Margarita Cojuangco, and Rep. JV Ejercito.
They wooed Bataeños by promising various programs and lambasting the national government's lack of programs to benefit the poor. Magsaysay also cited barangay tanod who receive a meager P300 per month allowance.
While senatorial candidate Rep. Jack Enrile failed to make it, it was noted that a big crowd of people came wearing T-shirts with his name printed on it.
In a statement released by his camp, Enrile welcomed the latest survey released by Stradpolls that showed him moving up to No. 7-No.8 in the senatorial race.
"This is a good sign that our advocacy for food sovereignty is gaining strong support from our people. People want to have food on their tables.
"Our people are more interested to hear the candidates' individual platforms. They are weary of the old politics where leaders engage in character assassination and dirty tactics," Enrile said.
As a legislator, Enrile filed House Bill No. 4626, otherwise known as the Food for Filipinos First, which provides an enlightened national agricultural policy aimed at bringing about an increase in total agricultural production with the corresponding increase in income for farmers as well as lower food prices for Filipino consumers. (With reports from Charissa M. Luci, Mar T. Supnad, and JC Bello Ruiz)