Aquino launches own rainbow coalition

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III launched on Monday, October 1, his own "rainbow" coalition for the 2013 senatorial race, which includes former political rivals and his first cousin.

Only 3 members of the Liberal Party are part of the administration coalition. They are his cousin Benigno Paolo "Bam" Aquino, and former senators Jamby Madrigal and Ramon "Jun" Magsaysay Jr. (Both Bam Aquino and Madrigal took their oath as LP members just last Friday, September 28.)

The rest come from the LP's partners Nacionalista Party (NP) including former Las Piñas Rep Cynthia Villar, and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano; Nationalist People's Coalition's (NPC) Sen Loren Legarda, former party list representative Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan, and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino's Aurora Rep Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara. Three others -- Sen Francis Escudero, censors board chairperson Grace Poe-Llamnzares, and Sen Aquilino Pimentel  Jr -- are independents.

The "rainbow coalition" concept was popularized by former Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr during the Ramos administration, when he put together various political parties to support the legislative agenda of then President Fidel Ramos. De Venecia formed the "rainbow coalition" because Ramos won the presidency in 1992 through a ragtag political party then, the Lakas-CMD, which later on grew into a ruling party.

In his speech, the President emphasized that rather than parties, what is important is that all the candidates of the slate are one in advancing his matuwid na daan principle that he said his government has begun.

"Sila ang rumesponde sa panawagan nating magbuo ng samahan ng mga pareho ang paniniwala, at nangangakong itataguyod ang agenda ng mabuting pamamahala," Aquino said Monday, October 1.

(They responded to our goal to form a coalition that has the same beliefs and promised to advance the agenda of honest governance).

The President formally declared the slate in Club Filipino, the same venue where he announced his presidential bid in 2009 and where his mother, the late Corazon Aquino, took her oath as president in February 1986.

Handpicked

Supporters came decked in yellow as posters of senatorial candidates hung from the walls. Aside from the candidates and their followers, LP stalwarts Mar Roxas, Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya and Butch Abad arrived with the President. LP's new campaign manager Sen Franklin Drilon was also in attendance.

Aquino named each member of the senatorial slate and briefly explained why each one had been chosen.

"Marami po sa kanila ang nakatrabaho ko na. Sila ang humarap sa pagsagasa ng tren ng nakaraang administrasyon; puwede namang pumanig na lang sila sa mali, at tumamasa ng kaliwa’t kanang benepisyo. Pero tumaya sila sa tama, at tumindig kasama ng sambayanan kontra sa katiwalian," Aquino said.

(I have worked with a lot of them. They were the ones who fought against the past administration; they could've sided with the wrong and gotten the benefits. But they stayed with what was right, and stayed with the fight against corruption).

He praised Angara for supporting his agenda of reform during the impeachment, Magsaysay for his quiet but effective leadership, his cousin Bam for working with the youth, Madrigal for her efforts to protect children, Hontiveros for health and women advocacy, Legarda for protecting the environment, Cayetano for his campaign on accountability and transparency, Pimentel for fighting for the people's voice, Poe-Llamanzares for her effective work at the MTRCB, Trillanes as an example of standing up for what he believes in, and Villar for her work as congresswomen in Las Pinas in improving the lives of Filipinos.

Aquino said from 40, the list was narrowed down to 15, and finally, 12.

He thanked Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, TESDA Chief Joel Villanueva, and Quezon Rep Erin Tanada for sacrificing their senatorial bids and prioritizing the country rather than their personal ambitions. Biazon and Tañada belong to the LP.

Ironically, some of those who made the senatorial list have been rivals in the past. Madrigal was a presidential candidate in 2010, the same year Villar's husband, Manuel "Manny" Bamba Villar Jr also ran for president; both ran against President Aquino. 

Critcizing UNA

The President did not hesitate to slam the opposition, questioning what their candidate's goals were -- emphasizing that not being part of the administration's coalition was questionable in itself.

"Maliwanag po ang mensahe ng alyansa natin: ituloy ang malawakang pagbabagong atin nang nasimulan. At ano naman kaya ang mensahe ng kabila? Sa totoo lang po, may ilan naman sa kabilang hanay ang kumampi sa amin sa importanteng mga isyu. Pero ngayon, ang kakampi nila, ‘yung mga walang ginawa kundi kumontra," he said.

(The message of our alliance is clear: to continue the path to change we have started. And what is the message of the other side? The truth is there are some there who are on our side regarding important issues, but now that they're with them -- with the ones who haven't done anything but contradict us).

"Kung tama kami, puwede bang tama rin ang kontra sa amin? Kung doon sila panig, masasabi po ba nating may maliwanag silang pag-intindi sa tama at mali? At kung hindi naman maliwanag, saan naman po kaya tayo dadalhin ng kanilang pamumuno?," he added.

(If we are right, can it be possible that they too are right? If they are siding with them, can we say they understand what is right from wrong? And if it isn't clear, where then will they head us once they're in government?)

UNA shares three guest candidates with the administration's coalition including Legarda, Poe-Llamanzares  and Escudero, but the LP has made it clear that candidates who are on their slate are not allowed to campaign with the opposition.

Unlike UNA, the administration's candidates will be filing their Certificates of Candidacies separately throughout the week. So far Pimentel is the only one who has filed his COC. - Rappler.com