CEBU CITY—The ruling Liberal Party and the opposition United Nationalist Alliance on Monday ruled out sharing common candidates even if they fail to field a complete slate for the senatorial race.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said UNA had six senatorial candidates so far while the LP also had six bets.
Binay said UNA will field Senator Vicente Sotto III, world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Buhay Rep. Joselito Atienza, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, and former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.
LP secretary general and Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento and Caloocan Rep. Edgardo Erice said the Liberals will field Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senators Ralph Recto and Teofisto Guingona III, former Senator and national food security czar Francis Pangilinan, former Senator Panfilo Lacson Jr., and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Binay said he wanted to field Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, a Liberal, but Romulo must leave his party.
In the Nov. 14 to 20 Pulse Asia survey, UNA grabbed the first slot with Sotto leading the race while Lacson of the LP ranked No. 2.
The third slot went to the LP with Pangilinan taking the post while Zubiri ranked 4th.
Binay said the difficulty in filling up the slate was not due to the lack of “winnable” candidates but due to lack of resources.
He cited as example the case of Zubiri, who ranked fourth but who was having second thoughts about running because it would not be easy to raise P250 million to mount a senatorial campaign.
“Our vetting for the senatorial slate continues but the lack of resources hampers our search,” Binay told the Manila Standard.
“Just look at Zubiri who is quiet and has not declared his intention to run, yet if the elections were held today he would be a sure winner. There is still a need for a lot of convincing for him to run.”
Binay was in the city to distribute 7,500 relief goods to the worst hit municipalities in the province. His family food packs were the first to be received by the survivors of typhoon Seniang in the municipality of Ronda.
Compared to UNA, the Liberals seem to have no problem with resources.
Erice said the LP was ready to mount a presidential and senatorial campaign and boasted that the administration party had “enormous resources and machinery” to make its candidates win.
The remaining unfilled six slots was not due to a lack of candidates, he said.
He said the six slots were reserved for the allied parties such as the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the Nacionalista Party and the National Unity Party.
So far, however, two of the NPC stalwarts—Sotto and Gatchalian—are with the UNA slate.
Gatchalian said the NPC, whose founder, businessman Eduardo Danding Cojuangco, is President Benigno Aquino III’s uncle, would have to decide which party to support or it will remain neutral and allow the individual members to do as they pleased.
“There is no party stand yet but the two of us, Senator Sotto and myself, have allied with VP Binay,” Gatchalian said.
He said the NPC members at the grassroots level were inclined to support Binay’s presidential bid but the incumbent members holding national positions such as senators and congressmen were taking a wait-and-see attitude.
“Vice President Binay really took a beating from the demolition job mounted against him by his opponents,” Gatchalian said.
“He has no problem in the grassroots level. Those in the national [level] were taking a wait- and-see stand.”
But Gatchalian expressed confidence that Binay would bounce back judging from the provincial sorties he had attended with Binay across the country.
“Despite the baseless accusations, people, young and old and from all walks of life in the provinces rush to Binay to welcome him. He will bounce back and recover the decline in his ratings,” Gatchalian said.
Binay admitted his rating was affected by the relentless attacks against him, but he said he expected another round of “vicious” attacks against him starting on Jan. 22, when the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee resumes its hearings against his alleged corruption when he was mayor of Makati City.
Binay dubbed the demolition job as an orchestrated effort to stop him from becoming the next President.
But he said he felt vindicated when the latest Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys showed he was still the strongest presidential contender.
The last quarter SWS survey showed Binay was the “best leader” to replace President Aquino in 2016 as opposed to Senator Grace Poe and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II who ranked second and third, respectively.