Guest senatorial candidates won't join UNA stage

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Monday, February 11, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero and Grace Poe Llamanzares will not be present at the proclamation rally of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in Cebu City on Tuesday, a coalition official said.

Reports said Legarda will skip the traditional campaign kickoff to celebrate the 80th birthday of her father while Escudero and Poe are set to be at the historic Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, to jumpstart their bids for the Senate with fellow candidates of the administration-backed Team PNoy.

"We are already expecting that they (guest candidates) won't be with us on Tuesday. Anyway, our nine candidates will be there along with our three kings," said UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco in a phone interview Monday.

UNA's "three kings" include Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Joseph Estrada.

Starting this week, the three will be busy touring the provinces and cities until early May to court public support for the rest of the UNA senatorial line-up.

They are Senator Gregorio Honasan II, Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay, San Juan City Representative JV Ejercito, Cagayan Representative Jack Enrile, former Senator Ernesto Maceda, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, former Senator Richard Gordon, former Tarlac Governor Margarita "Tingting" Cojuangco and Nancy Binay.

The program at the Plaza Independencia will be from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with organizers expecting some 100,000 people to witness the event.

Tiangco said local candidates, particularly those allied with the One Cebu Party headed by suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, will be introduced to the crowd first followed by the senatorial bets.
Celebrities will also take part in the event while UNA stalwarts (Estrada, Binay and Enrile) will deliver speeches, according to Tiangco.

Cebu has 2.5 million registered voters for the May 13 midterm elections, the biggest among provinces in the Philippines.

The province delivered the key votes for the election of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004 while then Senator Benigno Aquino III received nearly a million votes in the 2010 presidential polls despite lack of support from the island's major political players.

After Cebu, UNA will proceed to Bohol on Wednesday for the second leg of its sortie in the Central Visayas region.

UNA, a coalition of Binay's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and Estrada's Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), called itself a "constructive opposition" that seeks to further improve the programs of the Aquino administration.

"UNA sees the 2013 election as a historic opportunity to pursue legislation that would translate the reforms being instituted by the administration. UNA is providing an alternative legislative agenda that will have concrete and tangible gains for our people in the years to come," said Tiangco in a statement.

Tiangco said UNA is committed to advance moral and transparent governance, promote greater accountability, improve the delivery of government services, encourage entrepreneurship, and achieve food security and energy independence by 2020, among others. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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