Yet another sign of an exit by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia from the Senate race was hinted by former president Joseph Estrada.
In Manila, Estrada talked abut the results of a survey commissioned by the United National Alliance (UNA).
He later said “it was possible” that Garcia may drop out of the race due to her pending graft case before the Sandiganbayan over the Balili land deal, a P98.9 million purchase of land in Naga City that was found to be mostly underwater..
“It's a possibility,” Estrada said when asked about this scenario.
Governor Garcia ranked 25th to 26th in UNA survey.
Estrada said UNA had so far filled up 10 of the 12 slots in its senatorial slate.
Estrada, a senior UNA leader, was upbeat over the results of the UNA-commissioned survey, which showed Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda leading the race at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
"It just goes to show that we are strong, that UNA will dominate the next senatorial election," he said in Filipino in a phone interview on Tuesday.
The survey results, conducted by a prominent survey firm and made available to the INQUIRER by an UNA official, showed at least five other prospective UNA senatorial bets landing in the Magic 12.
They were Rep. Jose Victor Ejercito (4th), Rep. Juan Ponce "Jack" Enrile Jr. (5th), Sen. Gregorio Honasan (6th), ex-Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri (9th), and Vice President Jejomar Binay's daughter Nancy (12th).
Former Sen. Richard Gordon, who has secured a slot in the UNA slate, was at 13th place. Estrada, Gordon's erstwhile political foe, said he would "campaign hard" to ensure Gordon's victory in May next year.
Also in the Magic 12 were Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (3rd), Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (7th). Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel Jr. (8th), and Representatives Cynthia Villar and Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara tied at 10th to 11th places.
Governor Garcia also ranked 25 in the list of senatorial candidates based on the survey by Pulse Asia last Aug. 31 to Sept. 7.
It said Garcia, who had an 8.6 percent rating, would rank between number 24 to 29 if elections were held today.
phone interview on Tuesday.
Her father, Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu's 2nd district, said the Pulse Asia survey shouldn't be disregarded since past elections showed it reflected the actual outcome of the polls.
The congressman said the governor will make an announcement in a few days in light of the clamor of Cebu mayors allied with their One Cebu party for her to run in Cebu's 3rd district instead.
Garcia and other respondents in the Balili case posted bail.
With the filing of candidacies scheduled next month, several Cebu mayors called on the governor to run for Cebu's 3rd district, replacing her younger brother Rep. Pablo John Garci a who is running for governor under One Cebu.
PB member Alex Binghay of One Cebu also expressed interest in running for Cebu's 3rd district seat.
Both the governor's brother and father said it is up to her to decide whether to continue her Senate bid or run for Congress instead. /Inquirer with reports from Ador Vincent Mayol, Carmel Loise Matus and Marian Z. Codilla