UNA tells bets to join rallies

Posted on February 14, 2013

PRESSURE IS mounting on so-called guest senatorial candidates to declare their allegiance at this early stage of the campaign.

"We’re not numb, if they do not join us maybe they do not really want to be with us," said United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Secretary-General Tobias "Toby" M. Tiangco, who is also Navotas congressman, in a phone call yesterday.

He was referring to Senators Loren B. Legarda and Francis G. Escudero, and former movie and television review chief Grace Poe-Llamanzares who opted to join the proclamation rally of the Liberal Party (LP)-led Team PNoy in Manila on Tuesday.

The two just sent representatives to the UNA rally in Cebu on the same day.

The issue, explained Mr. Tiangco, stemmed from Mr. Escudero’s complaint that he was not informed that they are allowed to send proxies. This, after learning that Ms. Legarda sent her father while Ms. Poe-Llamanzares sent her son as representatives to the Cebu event.

Mr. Tiangco added that it has been a tradition to send proxies to events.

"When you’re a godfather and you cannot attend, you can ask if you can send a proxy," he said. "My stand is next time that we have a rally, they should join us."

Sought for comment, Mr. Escudero said he will likely join UNA’s next sortie.

"We don’t have schedule yet but yes most likely depending on our schedule given that we have previous commitments too," he said via text yesterday.

Ms. Legarda and Ms. Poe-Lamanzares, daughter of late actor and former presidential bet Fernando K. Poe, Jr., cannot be immediately reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay said guest candidates have to join their rallies occasionally.

"At least now I can tell you that there is a deal that they have to join somehow in some of our sorties," he said in Pilipino. "They have a commitment to participate in some of our events sometimes.

UNA groups Mr. Binay’s Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan and former president Joseph E. Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

The LP has required its guest candidates to join rallies nationwide, a demand shunned by UNA.

"[The] Liberal Party’s decision that guest candidates should not join us, we said that is not right," Mr. Tiangco said in a separate statement.

"Unlike the LP which demands party loyalty as a primary qualification and intimidates members who don’t follow the party stand, UNA only requires its candidates to be loyal to the Filipino electorate and be guided by their conscience," he added.

The UNA has yet to release a schedule for succeeding rallies, while the LP is set to campaign in Laguna today.

Ms. Legarda and Mr. Escudero, front-runners in private surveys, and Ms. Poe-Llamanzares have also been adopted by the Makabayan coalition of party-list groups. The group’s sole Senate bet is Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy A. Casiño, Jr.

The campaign period for national candidates will last until May 11, two days before election day. -- MJOC