BOHOL, Philippines (UPDATED) - The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) today said it may drop their guest candidates from the senatorial ticket if they will continue to snub the party's campaign sorties.
UNA leader and Vice President Jejomar Binay said there’s a "high probability" that they will delist Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chief Grace Poe if they ignore the agreement made prior to the campaign period.
When asked by ABS-CBN News if it’s possible that they will remove the guest candidates from the UNA slate, Binay quickly answered: "Sa malamang.”
He added, "kung kami naman ay mukhang kawawa sa usapan, ay hindi kami papayag.”
During the proclamation rally in Cebu on Tuesday, the tarpaulin of Escudero placed on stage was removed before the rally, and his supposed message recorded through video was not allowed by the organizers to be played.
Escudero did not send someone as his representative to the rally unlike Legarda, who sent her father Tony, and Poe, who was represented by her son Brian.
In today's campaign sorties in Bohol, meanwhile, the three candidates were again absent from the activities. In fact, at a campaign rally in the town of Loon, the main huge tarpaulin of the party set on stage did not anymore include the pictures and the names of their three guest candidates.
UNA candidates also admitted their disgust and sadness over the inability of Escudero, Legarda and Poe to campaign with them.
Senatorial candidate Mitos Magsaysay believes the UNA candidates will bring the issue to the table. “Kung anong maging stand ng majority, yun ang susundin namin, pag hindi sumama sa amin, we'll decide if we'll still include them sa UNA," she said.
Former Senator and UNA candidate Richard Gordon believes the people will judge the three guest candidates more than they will. "Ang tao, marunong, alam nila ang mga taong namamangka sa dalawang ilog."
Heart in UNA sorties?
Another candidate, Juan Miguel Zubiri, defended Escudero. He said: “In fairness to him, gusto nya rin pumunta pero iniipit sila ng kabila.”
He said Escudero should have sent a representative as a sign of goodwill to the party he joined. “Sana pinadala nya si Heart para bongga," Zubiri joked.
Magsaysay believes that delisting all three from the UNA roster would not affect the chances of the entire slate.
"Hindi naman hihina ang UNA dahil wala sya eh," she said of Escudero. “Si Chiz, may sariling brand ng pamumulitika na hindi ko alam at hindi ko gagawin.”
Chiz not bothered; Grace torn
Escudero, meanwhile, on Wednesday emphasized that he is an independent candidate, and no party can ever dictate what he can do or cannot do during the campaign season.
He said that while he remains thankful that both Team PNoy and UNA have included him in their senatorial slates, he still cannot be dictated upon by anyone from both parties.
"Independent ako at wala akong finile-an o sinamahan na partido nitong eleksyon," Escudero told ANC.
"Kinuha ako ng LP [Liberal Party] at UNA bilang guest candidate at nagpapasalamat ako dun. Pero hindi nangangahulugan na pwede akong diktahan o sabihan kung ano ang dapat at hindi ko dapat gawin," he added.
However, he said he has no ill feelings towards UNA even if his tarpaulin was removed from the stage before the proclamation rally in Cebu on Tuesday.
"Wala akong sama ng loob o alinlangan sa kaugnay sa pagbaba nila ng poster ko sa Cebu o anumang magiging pasya nila dahil desisyon nila yun," he said.
Poe, on the other hand, admits feeling torn between Team PNoy and UNA.
She, however, said it's her priority to join Team PNoy's campaign rallies.
"Gusto ko sana makasama para magpasalamat pero para sabihin mo para mag-endorso I think that's a personal thing din for me," she said.
Other senatorial candidates believe that the three guest candidates should not subject themselves to any prohibition since they can make their own decisions.
On the second day of the campaign period, UNA concentrated in the province of Bohol after a successful proclamation rally in Cebu on Tuesday.
Upon arrival at the port of Bohol in Tubigon via a fast craft ferry, Binay and Enrile continued to accompany their exclusive nine candidates in the province where they believe they will perform well in the coming elections in May.
Bohol is not exactly a stronghold of UNA, Binay said, but he believes they still have an edge in the province known for its world class beaches and the famous Chocolate Hills.
Before any campaign activity started, UNA candidates and party stalwarts stopped for a Mass at a church in Loon town and had their foreheads blessed with ashes in time for today’s celebration of the Ash Wednesday.
The Bohol sortie kicked off with a rally also in the town of Loon, where candidates were again given the chance to speak in front of some 1,000 voters who attended.