Can former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo still influence the 2013 senatorial elections?
Her ally, Zambales Rep. Maria Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, believes the Pampanga lawmaker now only has limited influence.
Magsaysay, who is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), warned Team PNoy’s habit of hitting Arroyo could backfire at their candidates’ expense.
“If you keep on capitalizing on GMA (Arroyo), it will backfire. Remember all the LGUs (local government units) that are allies of LP once upon a time pledged their allegiance to GMA,” Magsaysay told reporters.
“GMA showered them with assistance and support to develop their municipalities and provinces and most of these leaders still look up to the former president,” she added.
The veteran lawmaker said majority of around 800 local officials running under Arroyo’s Lakas – Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) prefer to support UNA due to Team PNoy’s anti-GMA attacks.
Magsaysay explained Team PNoy’s existing coalition among Liberal Party (LP), Nacionalista Party (NP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), and Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party does not guarantee a unified front.
Magsaysay added the Department of Interior Local Government (DILG)’s "harassment" against some of these political parties’ local leaders will prevent them from supporting LP senatorial candidates.
In a separate interview, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez told Yahoo! Southeast Asia that Arroyo’s political party will likely support more UNA senatorial candidates.
“It looks like we will probably carry more candidates from UNA than Team PNoy because we have administrative issues against them (LP),” Suarez told Yahoo! Southeast Asia.
“There are many issues that the Liberal Party supports that are contrary to the advocacy of Lakas that’s why we need to support candidates from UNA who we already worked with in the past,” he dded.
Suarez, vice chair in Lakas-CMD, said the party will soon announce the 10 candidates from UNA and Team PNoy.
He noted that they will leave the remaining two slots vacant in order to give their local leaders a free-hand in who to endorse for the 2013 senatorial race.
“But, we will carry more from UNA,” reiterated Suarez, who said he will personally support Magsaysay, former senators Richard Gordon and Ernesto Maceda, and Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile in his province.
He also said the former ruling party will likely support reelectionist Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero and social entrepreneur Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV.
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, chairman of Lakas CMD, earlier announced to endorse senatorial independent candidate and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño.
But Casiño, another critic of Arroyo, turned down Revilla’s endorsement “out of principle.”
“My initial reaction to turn down the idea of being a guest candidate of Lakas-CMD, as reported by GMA7, is borne by the fact that we have not yet discussed the matter, especially with the prevailing perception that the party has yet to decisively distance itself from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said.
“We are open to working with members of Lakas-CMD on a per-issue basis to promote the welfare of the Filipino people, especially the poor and oppressed sectors,” he clarified.
After receiving a presidential pardon from Arroyo, UNA convenor, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada became Arroyo’s staunchest critic.
Aside from claiming Arroyo stole the presidency from him following his ouster in 2001, Estrada also supported the late Fernando Poe Jr. in the 2004 presidential elections.