Word war between LP, UNA heats up

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MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE, 12 noon) The word war continues to heat up between the Liberal Party (LP) and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) despite pronouncements by President Benigno Aquino III that there were no issues between him the Vice President Jejomar Binay, UNA's leader.

Ahead of the official campaign period, the LP fired off with television and radio advertisements featuring the President himself. In the ads, he said, "Sa daang matuwid, marami ang gustong sumali. Pero mayroon ding nagpapanggap lamang (In the straight path, many want to join. But there are pretenders)." He continued with a warning, saying, "Mag-ingat sa hindi tunay (Beware of fakes)."

UNA delivered the opening salvo with television ads featuring its senatorial slate that came out last week.

Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, a member of LP, said the message of the President in the ads clearly drew the line between the administration candidates and the opposition.

Earlier, Evardone made a call to the UNA candidates to come out and tell the public if they are with the administration or the opposition.

"I think this initial ads are very clear that Team PNoy (candidates) are the administration candidates, and that the bets of UNA are the opposition. This will guide the people (in deciding) whom to support in the May 13 elections," Evardone said.

Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco, UNA secretary general, said the alliance did not feel alluded to with the President's message in the ads.

"Hindi kami nagpapanggap, hindi kami daang matuwid dahil daang maganda kami (We don't pretend, we're not the straight path because we're the beautiful way)," Tiangco said in a telephone interview.

He added that the President's statement that all was well between him and the Vice President Jejomar Binay should put a stop to attempts to sow intrigue between the country's two highest leaders.

Tiangco said Evardone should "shut up" and just help his party win in the upcoming May 2013 elections.

"The President himself said there is no rift between him and the Vice President, and that he is satisfied with the VP's performance as Cabinet member. With this candid statement, Rep. Evardone should shut up and instead help his newly-acquired partymates, but not by sowing intrigue, which is the usual weapon of the insecure and the desperate," Tiangco said in a separate statement.

Tiangco said Evardone was known for his "sipsipolitics" or sucking up to whoever was in position.

"In the end, the President's reform agenda will suffer because of sipsipolitics. That is the price that will be exacted by the LP's decision to open their doors to just about anyone willing to wear yellow and flash the 'L' sign," he said. 

The Navotas lawmaker said that UNA will play the "constructive opposition" that will support and commend government programs beneficial to the people, and criticize misguided policies.

He pointed out that UNA fully supoorted the administration's decision to file a case against China before the United Nations. He said this was proof that the coalition was not the traditional coalition that Evardone tried to paint it to be.

Tiangco said Evardone has a history of shifting political parties since he joined politics. Before joining LP in 2010, he said Evardone served as media bureau director of Team Unity in the 2007 senatorial elections under then ruling administration party Lakas-CMD. A staunch ally of then President Gloria Macapaga-Arroyo, Evardone was also given a vital position in the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), the party founded by Arroyo.

Prior to this, Tiangco said Evardone aligned himself with the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino in 2004 as its official gubernatorial candidate in Eastern Samar who supported the candidacy of the late Fernando Poe Jr. After his victory, he resigned from LDP and joined then President Arroyo's camp.