Philippines: Escudero Endorsement of Honasan to Further Hurt Opposition, says TU

May. 07, 2007

MANILA — More cracks are plaguing the fractious Genuine Opposition coalition following the startling move by GO bet Francis Escudero to publicly endorse the senatorial bid of his fellow Bicolano candidate Gregorio Honasan, in violation of an earlier unity accord between the United Opposition (UNO) and the Liberal Party (LP) faction of Sen. Franklin Drilon.

Team Unity said Escudero’s move is likely to provoke a retaliatory action by the Drilon bloc in GO in view of an earlier agreement between LP and UNO to leave the 12th GO slot vacant despite the decision by LP’s Francis Pangilinan to dump GO and run instead as an independent candidate.

Following Pangilinan’s move, Drilon’s LP faction had dropped hints of abandoning GO in response to a UNO plan then to pick a 12th candidate in place of Pangilinan, whom the Liberals are naturally campaigning for in this senatorial race despite his anti-GO stance, said Team Unity senatorial bet Luis “Chavit” Singson .

“The Drilon bloc, which includes GO senatorial candidate Noynoy Aquino, might not take Escudero’s move sitting down, considering that the former Senate president had been very emphatic about the need to follow the agreement that his LP faction has struck with GO,” Singson said. “It’s really difficult to impose discipline within a coalition where its members are driven by their respective personal ambitions, instead of their supposed desire to serve the people.”

Singson was reacting to media reports quoting Escudero as saying that he would endorse Honasan along with his 10 fellow GO bets. Both Escudero and Honasan are from Sorsogon.

Escudero reportedly said that because GO only has 11 candidates, he will include Honasan’s name in the sample ballots he will distribute in Sorsogon, a move which, according to Singson, was a direct affront to the Drilon-led LP bloc in the GO coalition.

Singson said it was no longer surprising to hear GO bets junking each other, considering that at least four other opposition senatorial candidates have reportedly been excluding several of their teammates in either their public endorsements or sample ballots during the last remaining weeks of the campaign.

Earlier, GO bet Sen. Panfilo Lacson complained that a fellow opposition candidate, whom he did not identify but other sources said was Loren Legarda, had been junking some GO candidates in Pangasinan as shown in the sample ballots she has distributed in the province. Lacson said that he, Escudero and Manuel Villar were excluded from the sample ballots distributed by one of their teammates in Pangasinan.

Villar, on the other hand, was also reported to have dumped most of his fellow GO bets in favor of Team Unity candidates as shown in sample ballots he had funded in Bulacan, while Lacson himself had publicly endorsed Honasan and senatorial bet Zosimo Paredes of Kapatiran. Lacson, Honasan and Paredes are “mistahs” because they all belong to the Class 1971 of the Philippine Military Academy.

Alan Peter Cayetano, on the other hand, had announced he was supporting the candidacy of Pangilinan and Kapatiran candidates Paredes, Adrian Sison and Martin Bautista.

As a result of GO’s junking spree and its lackluster support from local leaders, some opposition senatorial bets are now offering as high as P500,000 to pro-administration local candidates or political kingpins to include their names in the printed sample ballots to be distributed by Team Unity on May 14.

Team Unity media bureau director Gov. Ben Evardone earlier revealed that amounts ranging from P10,000 to P500,000 are being offered to governors, mayors and barangay officials as “incentives” to entice them to distribute sample ballots with the inserted names of these GO candidates.

Evardone said that contrary to its official posturing that command voting was a myth, opposition stalwarts actually believe it has a very high percentages of vote conversion, which is why its candidates are practically begging TU bets and supporters in the provinces to have their names included in their sample ballots. ###

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