UNA sorties unimpressive in their 'bailiwick'

March 25, 2013 10:46 pm 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, March 25 — They were supposed to be in the land where they claim they are virtually uncontested.

Yet efforts by candidates from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) over the weekend to ante up the Team P-Noy’s whirlwind stops in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region two weeks ago will not have their rivals splitting hairs almost halfway through the 90-day campaign period for the mid-term senatorial elections.

In Sultan Kudarat province, only five UNA candidates showed up for the caravan on Saturday even as they failed to hold an indoor rally at the provincial capitol gym in Isulan town.

While Sultan Kudarat Governor Teng Mangudadatu is a member of UNA, he was not around to welcome the senatorial candidates.

Instead, they motored to Tacurong City and held a rally on a 3,000 square meter vacant lot inside the Southern Mindanao Institute of Technology covered only by four "parachute" tents which made the sweltering summer heat unbearable.

The crowd was way below everybody’s expectations – barely 1,500 showed up – although the reception was very hot, both figuratively and literally.

It must have been oven-like for the UNA candidates who were seated inside a winged van truck that was transformed into a makeshift stage.

The weather forecast for the day was at 33 degrees Celsius although it must have been burning hot as senatorial hopeful Jack Enrile immediately went down after his speech.

By the time Miguel "Migs" Zubiri, who arrived late, made his own pitch for another stint in the Philippine senate, more than half of a little over 1,500 crowd that braved dehydration were already gone. It was already 20 minutes past noon when Zubiri ended his speech.

In between, "senatoriables" Nancy Binay, Richard Gordon, Mitos Magsaysay and Ernesto Maceda took turns explaining their causes to the handful of media that covered them.

There were exactly three television cameras which covered UNA’s southern swing in the region.

In Koronadal City, South Cotabato the crowd was slightly bigger but reportedly did not exceed 2,000.

After a hellish run earlier in the morning, the overcast skies and the verdant trees at the Rizal Park were welcome relief for UNA candidates in the afternoon with incumbent Governor Arthur Pingoy on hand to welcome them.

The rally has also become a routine for the emcees. When celebrities Inday Garutay and Tia Pusit took the stage, it was a signal the candidates were 10 to 20 minutes from arrival. (PNA)

PDS/AVE/EDWIN G. ESPEJO

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