LP talking to UNA’s candidates

Commitments for 2013 are not yet firm, says Liberal Party stalwart Florencio 'Butch' Abad

MANILA, Philippines – With 5 of 6 re-electionists and a number of survey leaders in the initial senatorial lineup of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Vice President Jejomar Binay’s coalition is showing to be the team to beat in 2013.

But President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party (LP) is shrugging it off. The administration party is talking to the same candidates in UNA’s list, LP stalwart and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad told ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel, on Wednesday, April 11.

“Commitments are not firm. Some of those with UNA are also talking with us. I believe everything is still fluid,” said Abad.

LP has not released its own senatorial list but Abad named re-electionist senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who he said are talking to President Aquino.

“Senator Chiz Escudero is in touch with the President. We have been talking to Senator Pimentel. We are finding ways to cooperate,” Abad told ANC.

“We have been talking to people. We have been vetting lists. There is no formal line up yet. In due time that will evolve,” he added.

UNA is a coalition between Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (LDP-Laban) and former President Joseph Estrada’s Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino. Aside from Escudero and Pimentel, the other names in UNA’s senatorial lineup are re-electionist senators Loren Legarda, Gregorio Honasan and survey leaders San Juan Rep JV Ejercito, Cagayan Rep Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., and former Sen Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Based on earlier media interviews with LP stalwarts, LP’s lineup will likely include re-electionist Antonio Trillanes IV, last-termer congressman and LP spokesperson Lorenzo Tañada III, and former Akbayan Rep Risa Hontiveros.

Strained relationships?

Binay’s allegiances with President Aquino was questioned for forming his own senatorial lineup that will potentially clash with the administration candidates.

“If UNA decides to field its own slate, it has to define itself in relation to the administration. Is it going to be anti, pro, or is it going to otherwise?,” said Abad on ANC.

Binay told ANC he still enjoys a good relationship with President Aquino. “I never felt” that it was strained, he said.

“In fact, after the state dinner last night, we had a long meeting up to 11 p.m. I was seated beside the President. We were discussing some matter,” Binay said.

Uulit-ulitin ko po sa inyo mga kababayan. Kinikilala ko pong malaking utang na loob na kung ano si Jojo Binay, nagsimula ito kay Pangulong Cory at sa family. Isa po akong taong marunong tumanaw ng utang na loob,” Binay said.

Abad: I did not dare Binay

Both LP and UNA have said they are open to the possibility of a coalition. But the LP has made it clear that it will only coalesce with parties or individuals who share President Aquino’s stand on key issues.

“Political parties have been criticized as being too personality-oriented, that political parties do not stand for anything. LP and the admin would like to promote the kind of party system where parties are known for certain beliefs,” said Abad.

Earlier, LP stalwart Rep Jose Emilio Abaya said that a coalition with UNA would not be possible if it’s including allies of former President Arroyo in its list. Zambales Rep Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, a staunch defender of Arroyo, is in UNA’s list.

Nevertheless, Abad denied a newspaper report that he is making Binay choose between President Aquino and former President

“That is not accurate,” Abad told ANC. “There was no dare addressed to the Vice President.” 

Binay dismissed criticisms that he is favoring GMA allies. He recalled the days when he led anti-Arroyo rallies during her administration.

The Vice President also refused to take a stand on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. “It is democracy in action and the proceedings have started. After all I was a litigation lawyer. Let’s see if there’s evidence (against Corona),” he said. – Rappler.com