MANILA, Philippines – She initially planned to run for vice governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 2011 and then partylist representative for farmers in 2013. Now, Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, aunt of President Benigno Aquino III, may end up running for senator.
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s political party has invited the former Tarlac governor to run for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). In a press statement, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) said UNA is just awaiting Cojuangco’s formal acceptance of the invitation.
Cojuangco is the wife of UNA Vice President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr, who is also PDP-Laban secretary-general. Cojuangco Jr is the uncle of President Benigno Aquino III, who heads the ruling Liberal Party.
In a press conference in his office on Monday, September 24, Binay refused to name Cojuangco as a possible senatorial candidate.
Yet sources present in the UNA meeting held before the briefing said she is being considered to replace Cebu Gov Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia in the slate after the governor dropped her senatorial bid. Garcia will instead run for congresswoman of the 3rd district of Cebu and was designated UNA’s chairperson in the province.
What Binay confirmed is that the person being eyed to replace Garcia asked for time to consult with her family before deciding.
“Bigyan niyo na lang ng pagkakataon makausap ang pamilya. Give us this evening, mag-uusap ang pamilya,” Binay said. (Just give the person a chance to talk to the family. Give us this evening. The family will discuss it.)
Mrs Cojuangco initially wanted to run for ARMM vice governor in 2011 but the polls were postponed to 2013. In July, she said she will run for partylist representative of the Aksyon Magsasaka Partido Tinig ng Masa, a regional political party from Central Mindanao.
If she and her family agree, Mrs Cojuangco may drop her partylist bid to run for the Senate and become UNA’s 10th official candidate.
UNA so far has 9 senatorial bets, the latest of whom is Senator Loren Legarda whose inclusion was announced in a press conference on Monday, September 24.
UNA is a coalition of Binay’s PDP-Laban and former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
Where to, Chiz?
With two remaining slots, Binay said Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) Chairperson Grace Poe-Llamanzares is already a sure guest senatorial candidate of UNA. Still, UNA leaders plan to talk to her to finalize her plans this week.
Llamanzares is running with the administration coalition but UNA still decided to adopt her. Estrada, UNA chairman, was the best friend of Llamanzares’ father, the late Fernando Poe Jr.
Estrada explained, “Alam naman nating lahat na ang kanyang ama ay dinaya. Dito man lang makaganti man lang tayo. (We all know her father was cheated in 2004. We take this chance to allow their family to make up for that.) If Grace Poe will be campaigning with us, why not? We accept her. She is most welcome.”
Estrada clarified though that UNA will not require Llamanzares to campaign with the slate. Because of her, UNA waived its policy to require guest candidates to campaign exclusively with the coalition.
Binay said what is unsure is the status of Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero. Escudero is an independent candidate who is allied with both Aquino and Binay.
“Yun na nga ang pag-uusapan namin kasi ‘di namin malaman kung ano ba siya sa Liberal. Definitely, magiging kandidatong senador iyan. Siguro, pagkatapos nito, magkausap kami ni Senator Escudero,” said Binay. (That’s what we will discuss because we can’t determine his status in the Liberal Party. Definitely, he will be a senatorial candidate. Maybe after this presscon, Senator Escudero and I will talk.)
Escudero, however, later issued a media statement saying he will be adopted by both the administration and UNA slates.
Binay said though that the status of the 3 remaining candidates is almost sure.
“Ang tatlong ito, 90-95% ay makakasama dito sa aming lineup.” (These 3 are 90-95% included in our senatorial lineup.)
Binay announced that the UNA senatorial candidates will jointly file their certificates of candidacy on October 1, Monday at 1 pm. “Kasi UNA ho kami eh,” he quipped.” (Because we are first.)
Asked why the alliance chose its candidates, Binay said, “The first reason is qualification. Look at our candidates one by one. No one can deny they are qualified to be a member of our slate.”
The filing of certificates of candidacy is next week, October 1 to 5. – Rappler.com
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