MANILA, Philippines – They got into a political marriage in 2013 but can President Aquino’s ruling Liberal Party (LP) and former Senator Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party (NP) sustain the partnership in 2016?
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the two parties will likely team up in the 2016 presidential polls if they agree on the selection of candidates. The NP’s secretary-general, Cayetano is eyed as a possible presidential or vice presidential contender.
“Kung maayos ang proseso ng pagpili ng kandidato, there’s a big chance NP and LP will still be together in 2016,” Cayetano said on ANC’s Headstart on Monday, February 17. (If the process for choosing candidates is done well, there’s a big chance NP and LP will still be together in 2016.)
Cayetano said the LP and NP successfully collaborated in 2013, when the administration’s senatorial ticket called Team PNoy won 9 out of 12 seats. The coalition ran against the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The senator said the choice of candidates in 2016 will be a key factor on whether or not the partnership will extend to the next polls.
“Everyone is idealistic and pragmatic at the same time. Ideally, NP wants the candidates to come from our party but pragmatically, who are the candidates? What will it take to win?” Cayetano said.
“Now, the direction of NP and LP, we are together but if as early as now, we are boxed out, our candidates will not be considered, then why will we join the LP? But if the President says, ‘We worked together well. Let’s leave a legacy behind [together]….’ To be fair to the president, he treated us well.”
Bitter rivals in the 2010 presidential polls, the LP and the NP entered into a partnership in 2013 to complete a senatorial line-up for the mid-term election. Yet the coalition did not hold at the local level, where the two parties fielded opposing candidates in several provinces.
In 2010, Aquino and Villar competed for the presidency, with both sides accusing each other of resorting to black propaganda. A spokesman for Villar, Cayetano criticized Aquino at the height of the campaign, and coined the term “Topak” to allude to his alleged psychological incapacity. The LP cast doubt on Villar’s claims that he came from a poor family.
After 2013, the LP and the NP continued their partnership at the Senate where both parties constitute the majority. LP campaign manager Senator Franklin Drilon was elected Senate President, while Cayetano became majority leader.
‘What has Binay accomplished?’
Asked if he will run for president or vice president, Cayetano said he needs more time to decide. He said he will make up his mind by 2015.
“Anyone who’s in politics from barangay captain to senator who says that he or she doesn’t want to be president is hypocritical. Everyone wants it. But are you the best person for a certain time is another question. Is it 2016, 2022, 2028? Those are the questions.”
The senator also said Binay should not have announced his presidential plans shortly after becoming vice president.
“I don’t think he should have announced on the first day after [winning] that he wants to run in 2016. What has he done as vice president? If he were my rival or as a voter, I will ask: What has he done? He cannot say, ‘I’ve done this in Makati’ when he hasn’t done it in the whole Philippines.”
Cayetano said the same thing of Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who is being eyed to be the LP’s standard bearer in 2016. The LP president-on-leave, Roxas ran against Binay for the vice presidency in 2010 but lost. Initially the LP’s presidential candidate in 2010, Roxas gave way to Aquino after a clamor for him to run and survey results showed Roxas would not win.
“Or supporting someone like Mar Roxas, I want to answer that question intelligently. Maybe by next year, there is time to assess that question, the middle of next year,” Cayetano said.
Will Binay presidency be easy on ‘pork’ case?
Cayetano said in sealing the partnership with the LP in 2016, it is crucial for the NP that anti-graft reforms are institutionalized through bills like the Freedom of Information Act, and the Whistleblowers’ Act.
He then raised questions on Binay’s statements about the pork barrel scam case, the worst corruption scandal in recent Philippine history. Binay’s close allies Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada are respondents in the case.
“We have to strengthen institutions if the president wants to leave a legacy of transparency and accountability. Just by the two statements of VP Binay, when he sits as president, does it mean the DOJ will not be as tough, for example? It’s important we fulfill promises and get things done.”
Cayetano first questioned Binay’s statements on the case during the Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam last Thursday.
Binay has since clarified that he did not call the testimony of potential state witness Ruby Tuason against Enrile and Estrada a “dud” but said that the prosecution was “weak.”
While he has yet to declare his 2016 plans, Cayetano has been criticizing Binay, indicating his future political aspirations.
In December 2013, he hit the vice president’s family over the Dasmariñas gate incident, saying the actions of Binay’s son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, smacked of abuse of power. – Rappler.com