A pillar of the United Nationalist Alliance, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, did not show up at UNA’s launching as a political party in Makati City (Metro Manila) on Wednesday.
Estrada’s absence during the launch of the opposition party at the Makati Coliseum was seen to have raised questions on his support for the party’s standard-bearer, Vice President Jejomar Binay, in the race to Malacanang in the 2016 elections.
UNA officials said Estrada was informed about the event but that the former leader opted not to attend. He was previously quoted that he might support the possible bid for the presidency of Sen. Grace Poe, daughter of his late best friend, actor Fernando Poe Jr.
The Vice President’s daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, said their family understands Estrada’s decision not to show up.
Estrada heads the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), which joined Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and they formed UNA in time for the 2013 senatorial polls.
“May sarili ring partido si Presidente. Ang pinaka-busy na trabaho ay ang pagiging mayor. It’s a 24/7 job, lalo na ang hawak na bayan ni Presidente Erap ay ang Maynila. So understandable I guess na mayroon siyang mas importanteng dapat gawin [The former President has his own party. Being mayor is a busy, 24/7 job, especially if it is Manila that you are leading. He may have had more important things to do],” Senator Binay said.
Present during the UNA launch were Estrada’s son Sen. Joseph Victor Ejecito; nephew and ousted Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito; Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao of Sarangani; UNA interim president and Navotas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Tobias Tiangco; interim vice president and Sen. Gregorio Honasan; interim secretary-general JV Bautista; and interim treasurer Margarito Teves.
Pacquiao is expected to be a senatorial candidate of UNA in next year’s polls.
Allies of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo graced the launching, among them former Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Cebu Rep. Gwen Garcia and former Candaba (Pampanga) Mayor Jerry Pelayo.
Also spotted were delegates from the cities of Caloocan, Manila, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela and Taguig, all in Metro Manila; and from the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Sultan Kudarat and Mountain Province, among others.