ZAMBOANGA CITY – The senatorial ticket of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) fears massive cheating and disenfranchisement in Mindanao during the May elections as prolonged brownouts continue in the region.
UNA, on Tuesday’s s sortie in Zamboanga City, centered its campaign on the key issues of "power, progress and peace" in Mindanao.
The lingering power shortage in Mindanao is one of the key concerns being carried by UNA senatorial candidates.
Leading UNA senatorial bet Nancy Binay aired her concern on whether the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is up to the challenge of providing sufficient power supply on election day.
"’Yung PCOS battery could only last for four hours, may standby generator ba, ano ang contingency plans nila?" she asked.
Binay is now among the top 3 senatorial candidates based on the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey.
Zambales representative and UNA candidate Mitos Magsaysay said a lot of possibilities of cheating could happen if plans to provide enough electricity to poll precincts fail.
"Baka sabihin, blackout ngayon, amin na muna ang mga balota ipapasok namin kapag may kuryente na," she said.
Incumbent senator and candidate Gringo Honasan fears what could happen after the election day that may damage and taint the election process.
"Elections will push through pero sisihan na naman ‘yan na nagkadayaan dahil brownout, it will not be good after elections," he said.
Former Senate president and candidate Ernesto Maceda said they can’t do anything at this point but simply trust the poll body.
"We are taking [Comelec Chairman Sixto] Brillantes' word at face value that they have enough preparations for that," Maceda said.
With the dry spell this summer expected to affect hydroelectric plants in the region and available power resources are getting scarce, UNA believes that a 15-year energy blueprint should be crafted to abate further energy crisis that could develop into an economic and political catastrophe.
Will Zambo go for UNA?
Exactly 20 days before the election on May 13, UNA campaigned in Zamboanga City to secure its dominance in one of the Philippines' largest cities.
During the 2010 national election, the tandem of former President Joseph Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay got the lion share of the votes of Zamboangeños and practically the whole of Mindanao.
UNA is confident that its senatorial bets will get the same share on May 13.
Nancy Binay said starting May, candidates will campaign on separate ways to concentrate more on areas they hope to solidify.
"Pinag-uusapan na ang individualized sortie by May," she said. "Sa last 11 days mag-focus and concentrate kami to solidify mga balwarte namin."
Magsaysay said they are now also holding on to the support of the party's local candidates.
"Hinihigpitan na namin relationship with our local candidates," she said.
Magsaysay said they could hardly believe the latest SWS survey that shows Team PNoy having 9 of their candidates in the top 12.
"Anything can still happen," she said. "I have my own internal survey."
This survey group, she said, is the same group she commissioned since 2004 that were reliable in her congressional bids.
Magsaysay refused to say her standings in that survey but said that the slots 8-17 is "anybody’s ballgame" since the margin of difference is just one vote.
Candidate and former Senator Richard Gordon also does not believe in the surveys.
He said that in the 2004 elections, he ranked number 35 in the surveys but he end up number 5 in the final count of the Comelec.
Gordon believes that the integrity of the survey firms is questionable and that the public should not be fooled by what they release through media.
"It’s a business, monkey business," Gordon said.
Honasan for his part believes that the country should maintain a balance in terms of numbers of administration bets in the Senate for, if not, this may be damaging to the country's democracy.
"An independent Senate will serve public interest best," the senator said.