MANILA, Philippines – United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial candidate San Juan Rep JV Ejercito said he did not expect the Liberal Party (LP) to launch a negative campaign against the candidates of the rival slate.
“They claim that we are riding on the President’s popularity by presenting ourselves as… ano sabi nila noon, nagpapanggap daw kami (They said we are impostors),” Ejercito told Rappler.
“Well, my message to the Liberal Party is: If they think that the President can make their President win, how come they can’t put up their own slate? How come they have to adopt different candidates from other parties and convince the incumbent senators to run under the [administration] coalition?”
In its slate ad that started airing last week, January 28, President Benigno Aquino III himself introduced the 12-man administration ticket now known as Team PNoy. The strategy is clear. They are hoping that the President’s endorsement would sway Filipino voters to vote for his anointed candidates.
“Sa Daang Matuwid, marami ang gustong sumali. Pero meron ding nagpapanggap lamang,” the President begins to say in the ad. He introduces his candidates one by one and continues to say: “Sila ang Team PNoy. Mga tunay na tuwid sa Daang Matuwid.”
It doesn’t end there. An unknown voice ends the ad to say: “Sa Daang Matuwid, mag-ingat sa hindi tunay.” (READ: Can Aquino sell his senators?)
The Team PNoy ticket is composed of only 3 LP members: former Sen Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr, former Sen Jamby Madrigal, and presidential cousin Bam Aquino. These LP candidates are not ranking within the Magic 12 based on the latest survey.
The allusion to the UNA slate is subtle. UNA describes itself as “constructive opposition,” saying its candidates and officials support the President. “Sad to say the other party had to resort to mudslinging and name calling – calling us impostors. I was not expecting this,” Ejercito told Rappler.
“I’m disappointed to be honest with you. This is the Senate. I was hoping that the campaign will be on a higher level. We will be presenting our platforms. We will explain why we are good representatives of the people,” Ejercito added.
Ejercito explained where UNA stands when it comes to the Aquino administration. They support his platform of good governance but they want to keep the Senate as an independent institution to keep the administration in check.
“We admit that the President is very popular. We have supported the President on his thrust for good governance. But sometimes when you are too popular, you do not know anymore the pulse of the people,” he said.
“We would try to become the true voice of the people. We would like to become ‘fiscalizers.’ If the administration is performing well and is doing good, we would be there to support him. If we see something different, it’s our duty to tell the President and his men that this is not what’s good for our people,” he said.
But Ejercito is not blaming President Aquino for the negative campaign. He believes it’s only his party mates in the Liberal Party sowing intrigues. “They are the ones creating this feud. They are trying to bring in the president ot join this battle, this war,” Ejercito said.
In spite of the administration strategy, Ejercito said he is confident that UNA candidates will still make it. “A good of 7 or a worst of 5 for UNA,” he said. – Rappler.com