Erap to continue campaigning for Grace

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Feb 21 2013 09:22 PM | Updated as of Feb 22 2013 05:22 AM

I didn't ask to be in UNA, says former MTRCB chief

MANILA - Former President Joseph Estrada on Thursday said he will continue to campaign for Team PNoy senatorial candidate Grace Poe in a personal capacity, despite the United Nationalist Alliance's (UNA) decision to drop her and 2 other guest candidates, re-electionist Senators Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero, from its senatorial slate.

"The decision to junk the 3 common candidates was a party decision," he told ANC on Thursday night.

"But I have already advised the coalition that in spite of this, I am personally going to campaign for my best friend (the late) FPJ's daughter Grace Poe," he added.

Estrada said Fernando Poe, Jr. was like a brother to him.

He added he bears no ill will toward Grace Poe, Escudero and Legarda.

Estrada, however, vented his ire on the Liberal Party (LP) and accused the ruling party of being "selfish."

Estrada said the 3 guest candidates were not allowed by LP to appear in UNA rallies.

He downplayed suggestions that UNA's decision has weakened the opposition's senatorial slate, now down to 9 candidates.

"Matagal na ako sa pulitika. Hindi nagvo-vote straight ang tao," he said.

Estrada is one of the so-called "3 Kings of UNA." The 2 others are Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Grace hurt, cites Binay's endorsement power

Meantime, Poe said she did not ask the UNA to include her on its senatorial slate.

Poe, in an interview with radio dzMM Thursday night, said she was not surprised by UNA's decision to drop her, Escudero and Legarda.

"Nung ako'y inimbita, hindi naman namin hiningi," she said.

"Hindi naman unexpected 'to. Marami din namang warning sa amin," the former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board  (MTRCB) chief added. "Pag nangyari din, masakit. Sa mata nila, naging pasaway kami pero naisplika ko rin sa kanila."

Poe said she was initially elated with UNA's decision to add her as a guest candidate.

No conditions attached

However, she added that she was not informed beforehand that the inclusion involves going with UNA candidates in their sorties nationwide.

"Hindi naman ako sinabihan na magso-sortie tayo, iyan ang kundisyon namin," she said. "Nung sinabi nila iyon ang kundisyon, medyo naipit na rin ako."

She said Team PNoy also barred its candidates on UNA's "guest" list from joining the opposition alliance's activities.

"Iyung [Team PNoy] coalition already said na hindi puwede. Hindi naman natin puwedeng suwayin iyung sinabi ng Presidente," she said.

She added that she told UNA leader Vice-President Jejomar Binay about the situation.

Team PNoy later allowed her to join UNA sorties but it may have been too late.

"Nung sinabi ni LP spokesperson Miro Quimbo na puwede na kayong pumunta sa UNA (sorties), nagbanta na ang UNA," she said.

"Parang ang pangit naman kung biglang pumunta kami doon na masyado kaming desperado," she added.

Poe admitted being hurt by criticisms from the UNA camp.

"Minsan nakakasakit iyung sinasabi nila. Minsan, I'm sure nasasaktan din sila pag may konti ako criticism," she said.

"We maintain the respect, but when it comes to us making us look like wala kaming commitment, siyempre I have to defend myself," she added.

She admitted that UNA's decision to drop her from its ranks may affect her chances of becoming a senator.

"Possibly. Hindi matatawaran talaga iyung lakas ng UNA, ang popularidad ni Vice President Binay," she said.

Poe, however, added that she continues to respect Binay and former President Joseph Estrada, who is a good friend of her late father.

"Nandiyan naman si President Erap na patuloy ang suporta niya. Iyon malaking bagay iyon," she said.

Legarda, Escudero respect UNA decision

Legarda and Escudero told media Thursday that they still respect UNA.

"I thank them for having us as guest candidates," Legarda said. "My respect for them will not change. They will continue to be my friends."

Escudero echoed Legarda's statement.

"Sa kabila ng aming kalungkutan, ginagalang namin ang pasya, pulitika lang. Kaibigan pa rin ang turing ko sa kanila," he said.

Drilon denial

Team PNoy official Senator Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, denied on Thursday night that they barred the trio from appearing in UNA sorties.

"Let me make it clear that at no moment did we prohibit the three na pumunta sa UNA," he told ANC.

"Iyung tatlo, from the very start, ay kandidato ng administrasyon," Drilon added.

He said UNA's decision will not affect Team PNoy's campaign strategy.

"We will present solid 12 candidates to the electorate," Drilon said. "Maganda ang aming projection that we have a full ticket."