MANILA, Philippines – What happens when the Vice President creates his own senatorial slate separate from the President’s party?
Former Senator Ernesto Maceda believes Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) may eventually be identified as the opposition coalition.
“UNA is not opposition at the moment because VP Binay is still part of the administration but once PNoy proclaims the [Liberal Party] ticket as the administration ticket, UNA may be seen as the opposition,” Maceda told Rappler.
“I’m sure the LP ticket will be the administration ticket,” added Maceda, a key ally of former President Joseph Estrada.
Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) entered into a coalition agreement to form UNA for the 2013 midterm elections. Estrada and Binay ran together during the 2010 polls for the presidency and vice presidency, respectively.
Maceda said at this point, an UNA coalition with President Benigno Aquino III’s LP is “out of the question.” Aquino is chairman of the LP. (Read: Binay coalition not a threat – LP)
A coalition between the LP and PDP-Laban has seemed unlikely because of the rivalry between Binay and LP President Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas.
Binay pulled off a come-from-behind victory against Roxas in 2010. The two are expected to battle it out again for the presidency in 2016.
Although Binay is a supporter of the President’s mother, Aquino’s ties to Roxas have led him to distance himself from Binay in politics.
‘Binay still a PNoy supporter’
Joey Salgado, Binay’s spokesperson, however refused to describe UNA as an opposition coalition.
“VP Binay is part of the administration and he fully supports the vision of President Aquino and the administration,” Salgado said in a phone interview.
Salgado stressed that even if UNA is recruiting personalities who have been identified with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, “there is definitely no coalition with GMA.”
Salgado explained that Zambales Rep Ma Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay of the House minority, and former Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri were asked to join UNA because of their individual capacities and not to represent Arroyo’s Lakas-Kampi.
Zubiri ran under Mrs Arroyo’s 2007 senatorial ticket but has resigned from Lakas-Kampi.
He sat as senator but stepped down last year, days before the Senate Electoral Tribunal proclaimed Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III the winner of the electoral protest. (Read: Koko, Migz can fix rift – Binay camp)
Binay’s spokesperson added that the Vice President welcomes critics of the Aquino administration as long as they offer solutions and alternatives to problems.
“VP Binay even told [Rep Mitos Magsaysay] to be more constructive in her criticisms. That was his advice to her,” said Salgado.
More alliances in the works
Salgado said that UNA’s senatorial slate will likely include the following:
- Sen Loren Legarda
- Sen Francis Escudero
- Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
- Sen Gregorio Honasan
- Former Sen Ernesto Maceda
- Joey de Venecia
- San Juan Rep Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito
- Cagayan Rep Juan “Jack” Ponce Enrile Jr.
- Zambales Rep Ma Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay
- Former Bukidnon Rep Juan Miguel Zubiri
Maceda and Salgado revealed that UNA is in the process of forging alliances with more parties: Nacionalista Party (NP), the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP).
If talks with the NP are fruitful, Salgado said Sen Alan Peter Cayetano and former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar may become UNA senatorial bets. Villar is the wife of NP President Sen Manny Villar.
Salgado said UNA negotiations with NPC and LDP are almost a done deal. In this case, UNA could have at least 4 parties under its wing, still excluding the possible NP tie-up.
Other names being floated as UNA senatorial bets are former Senators Richard Gordon and Jamby Madrigal.
Despite the alliances, Maceda and Salgado agreed with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s comment likening UNA to David going up against Goliath.
“The party in power usually has the advantage. They have the resources, machinery and network. David vs. Goliath is an appropriate comparison,” said Salgado.
The diverse figures under UNA may bring to mind the Rainbow Coalition formed by then Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr before the 1998 presidential race.
With the various personalities being named as UNA candidates, what exactly binds them?
Salgado, quoting Estrada, said UNA will only entertain candidates who have not been involved in anomalies and corruption scandals during the Arroyo administration.
For Maceda, UNA will bank on the different constituencies of its potential candidates.
“In the case of Chiz, he has a big constituency among the youth. Loren is for the environmental groups and NGOs. So it’s varied.”
Maceda added that geographical representation is no longer as important a factor compared to past elections. Still, he said candidates from Mindanao are given priority.
Salgado said that there is a long list of names vying to be part of UNA’s slate. UNA will finalize its lineup by September, before the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy from October 1-5, 2012.
The September survey will be crucial in finalizing the ticket, said Maceda.
Binay plays active role
Maceda revealed that Binay is playing an active role in founding UNA, speaking to senatorial aspirants and party leaders on a one-on-one basis.
“He does not just play an active role. He is the sole decision-making authority.”
Binay will consult Estrada, especially on which candidates will represent PMP, but he will ultimately call the shots.
Asked how the UNA-LP rivalry will affect the working relationship of Aquino and Binay, Maceda said it is up to them.
“That will have to be discussed by the President and Vice President, the dynamics of their relationship, concurrent with the selection of candidates in the local level.”
“The LP candidates will be the administration candidates for sure. This will affect even the local race,” he said.
Maceda stressed that the 2013 polls are key to the 2016 elections.
“The 2013 elections are preparatory to 2016, and it will be a victory to the party that gets more than half of the seats,” he said.
“There is a serious effort on both sides (UNA and LP) to win.” – Rappler.com