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(Updated 3:04 p.m.) It's final.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) will stick with nine senatorial candidates for the upcoming May 13 mid-term polls. In a statement released Friday, UNA campaign manager and secretary general Rep. Toby Tiangco said the coalition will not look for replacements for the three common candidates that they junked from their lineup — re-electionists Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chairperson Grace Poe.
“We will focus on our nine UNA candidates,” Tiangco said. “We freed ourselves from our obligation to campaign for the three former guest candidates not so we can replace them, but so we can move on.” This, despite the statement of Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn, who is also running for the Senate, that he is open to joining UNA. “I think walang problema kung later on mapasama ako sa kanila. Gusto ko lang i-assure ang administration na hindi ako magiging problema nila,” Hagedorn said in an interview on GMA News TV's "News To Go." He said he felt honored that his name was being mentioned as one of the choices of UNA but added he could not decide yet. “Malaking malaking karangalan na mabanggit man lang yung pangalan mo na isa sa mga choices nila pero wala pang official na communication sa amin, wala pang nakikipag ugnayan tungkol dito kaya mahirap namang magsalita agad,” said Hagedorn.
Aside from Hagedorn, other senatorial candidates who were reportedly considered as possible replacements for Escudero, Legarda and Poe were Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Rep. Teddy Casiño.
But Tiangco stressed that while UNA holds these senatoriables' candidacies in high regard, the coalition “has not officially made and will not make an offer for them to join us as guest candidates.”
On Thursday, UNA announced the junking of Escudero, Legarda and Poe for their failure to physically appear at the coalition's sorties according to an earlier report. The three are also candidates of the ruling Liberal Party-led coalition.
"We would have wanted and were looking forward to having them join our nine UNA candidates in our rallies and sorties. Unfortunately, none of them have taken any concrete move or extended any meaningful gesture to assure us that they will live up to their commitments," Tiangco said Thursday. Escudero, Legarda and Poe all said that they respect UNA's decision.
Meanwhile, former President Joseph Estrada, a stalwart from UNA, said he will still personally campaign for Grace Poe, the daughter of the former Philippine leader's best friend, the late actor Fernado Poe Jr. — Andrei Medina and Amita O. Legaspi/RSJ, GMA News