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MANILA, Philippines – Is the President who champions good governance guilty of the politics of addition?
President Benigno Aquino III’s spokesperson Edwin Lacierda faced a barrage of questions on Aquino’s announcement that his ruling Liberal Party is engaged in “very successful” talks with the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) for the 2013 polls. (Read: LP reviewing list of 16 senatorial hopefuls)
NP is headed by Aquino’s bitter rival in the 2010 presidential race, Sen Manny Villar. The LP and Aquino then accused Villar of corruption and being the secret candidate of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Lacierda told reporters, “Campaigning is campaigning. There [were] words that were exchanged during that time but we move on for the sake of the country.”
In defending the talks between the LP and the NP, Lacierda cited a 2009 Senate resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to dismiss the ethics complaint against Villar on the controversial C-5 road double insertions issue.
“Senator Villar has been supportive – correct me if I’m wrong – of some of the administration’s measures in the Senate. [The NP members] recognize what’s important for the country. They recognize what’s good for the countrymen and so they will rise above political differences.”
Lacierda added, “You’re looking at the party itself. You’re looking at, wait. You’re looking at the Nacionalista Party and who will be there. You’re looking at [Senator] Alan [Peter] Cayetano who stood for good governance. So we’re looking at party principles [transcending] individual differences.”
Aquino’s spokesperson also denied that the talks are related to the Senate vote to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Just to also let you know, Senator Bongbong Marcos is also with the Nacionalista Party and he voted to acquit Mr. Corona. So it was really based on individual decisions and conscience.”
PNoy wants ‘genuine addition’
Aquino’s partymate, Marikina Rep Romero “Miro” Quimbo, also tried to defend the President and his party.
In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of Project Noah, Quimbo told Rappler that the NP and NPC formed a coalition with the LP in the House of Representatives after the 2010 polls.
Asked about Aquino and Villar, Quimbo said, “Isn’t that the story of Philippine politics? It’s about addition but I think what the President wants is genuine addition.”
He explained. “Not just addition for the sake of coming up with a strong slate but people he believes will be able to carry out and defend the very difficult programs he wants to carry out which he carried out in the last two years and he wants to carry out in the next 4 years.”
Quimbo cited the Sin Tax bill, oil deregulation and land reform as contentious initiatives where the President will need coalition allies in Congress.
“We need to be able to accommodate and find a place where these allies supportive of the President can also have a place in the senatorial lineup. After all, it is going to be the administration lineup.”
He said he does not see any conflict between the LP and the NP.
“I think your loyalty to the party should end as soon as you start serving that public office and that goes for Senator Villar or whoever that’s why we’ve always been together in terms of programs.”
Will NP support reform agenda?
Another Aquino ally, former Akbayan Rep Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, also downplayed possible conflicts between the LP and the NP. The President has named Baraquel as a senatorial candidate of the administration in 2013.
For Baraquel, what matters is that the NP and NPC should support Aquino’s reform agenda.
“If the NP will support the President’s anti-corruption and poverty alleviation [programs] like what Akbayan does, maybe it’s not just politics of addition but added practice in principled politics. In elections, it’s not just the numbers that are important but your commonalities,” Baraquel said in Filipino.
She added, “In any human endeavor, there is potential conflict especially in Philippine politics but the coalition politics that Akbayan pushes for is one where different parties, though with different long-term visions, can come together in an important exercise like the 2013 midterm elections to promote a specific reform agenda.” – Rappler.com
More in Rappler’s Elections 2013 Coverage:
- Why Aquino, Villar need each other
- 900 ARMM poll hotspots to be monitored during voters registration
- LP reviewing list of 16 senatorial hopefuls
- Comelec creates new unit to monitor campaign finances
- Comelec accredits UNA as official coalition
- UNA vs LP: What’s the difference?
- Binay and the politics of firsts