(Updated 12:30 p.m.) TAGBILARAN CITY — The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) may drop re-electionist Senator Francis Escudero as its guest candidate if he continues to snub its sorties, Vice President and coalition stalwart Jejomar Binay said Wednesday.
Binay said Escudero is “likely” to be removed as UNA senatorial bet if he repeatedly fails to show up or send a representative to the coalition’s political rally, similar to what happened during the coalition’s kickoff sortie in Cebu on Tuesday night.
“Sa sitwasyon ngayon, kami naman ang kawawa sa usapan na ito. Siya, dinadala natin, pero paano naman kami?” Binay told reporters.
He added that Escudero will be given the chance to make up for his absence in UNA’s first official sortie, since the senator has already made a commitment to attend future political rallies of the coalition.
In a text message to GMA News Online, Escudero said he was not able send a representative to UNA’s rally like his fellow common candidates Sen. Loren Legarda and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares for obvious reasons.
“Di tulad ni Loren, wala na akong tatay. At di tulad ni Grace, five years old pa lang mga anak ko. Sent a video message but they decided not to show it,” he said.
Escudero also said that he will probably attend UNA’s rallies in the future. “It’s inevitable given the long 90-day campaign,” he said.
He likewise said although he is thankful to UNA for its support, he chose to be an independent candidate so that no party would dictate what he should do.
Escudero was not able to send a representative to the UNA proclamation rally. As a result, his campaign materials were not used during the sortie, and his name was not publicly endorsed by the coalition’s stalwarts, including Binay.
‘UNA won’t weaken without Chiz’
For UNA senatorial bet and Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, however, Escudero already made his choice when he snubbed the UNA proclamation rally last night.
“The writing is on the wall already. This means that he would rather join the other side. If he thinks na hindi na niya kailangan ang UNA to win the elections, then so be it,” Magsaysay told reporters in a separate interview.
She likewise dared Escudero to make a categorical decision on which senatorial slate he will join.
“He should have made this decision early on. Mahirap ang namamangka sa dalawang ilog… ‘Yung hindi pagbanggit sa kanya kahapon, siguro first step na iyon na move on na kami. Hindi naman hihina ang UNA dahil wala siya,” she said.
But former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who is also seeking a fresh term at the Senate, said UNA should be more understanding towards Escudero.
“Kawawa rin naman si Chiz. Namatay ‘yung tatay niya tapos his mom is running for a local position. Sino’ng mapapadala niya?” Zubiri said in a separate interview.
He, however, had a suggestion to Escudero on who best to send to UNA sorties.
“Sana pinadala niya na lang si Heart para bongga,” Zubiri quipped, referring to Escudero’s girlfriend, actress Heart Evangelista. — with Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ, GMA News