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MANILA, Philippines - What did President Aquino mean when he said that coalition talks among the ruling Liberal Party (LP), Nacionalista Party (NP), and Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) have been "very, very successful"?
"Negotiations are still ongoing. Nothing is final. But we have agreed to coalesce in principle," explained LP stalwart and Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad. He said details of the proposed alliance have yet to be finalized.
The President, who is LP chairman, and LP president Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas met with NP president Sen Manuel Villar on Wednesday, July 4.
NP wanted 4 members and allies included in the administration ticket: Mrs Cynthia Villar, Sen Alan Peter Cayetano, former Surigao del Norte Gov Robert "Ace" Barbers, and NP ally Sen Antonio Trillanes IV.
Abad told Rappler that the administration shortlist for the 2013 senatorial race has at least 16 names as of Thursday night, July 5. It's down from 32 as of June but still overflowing considering that only 12 senatorial seats are up for grabs in next year's polls.
The administration shortlist is led by re-electionist senators, who are the survey leaders. It is not limited to members of LP, NP, and NPC. "We have a strong slate for the 2013 elections," Abad said.
The list includes the following:
1. Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero, independent
2. Senator Loren Legarda, NPC
3. Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel, PDP-Laban
4. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, NP
5. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Magdalo-NP
6. Former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, wife of NP chair Senator Manny Villar
7. Aurora Rep Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, LDP
8. TESDA director-general Joel Villanueva, Cibac
9. Customs chief Rufino "Ruffy" Biazon, LP
10. Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Akbayan
11. President Aquino's cousin Paulo Benigno "Bam" Aquino
12. MTRCB chair Grace Poe Llamanzares
13. Former Senator Ramon "Jun" Magsaysay, LP
14. Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada, LP
15. Former Surigao Del Norte Gov. Robert "Ace" Barbers, NP
16. Former Senator Jamby Madrigal
Aside from Biazon, only 3 in the list come from LP. They are Tañada, Magsaysay, and Bam Aquino.
There are bitter rivalries between LP and NP in the local level, but Abad said they would exert best efforts to insulate the senatorial race from local negotiations.
NPC commits Loren
As far as NPC is concerned, Abad said they have discussed the inclusion of Senator Legarda in the administration ticket. NPC chairman emeritus Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco is the uncle of President Aquino.
Curiously, former President Joseph Estrada of the opposition coalition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said they have given the top slot in their senatorial ticket to Legarda after Senator Pimentel bolted their ticket.
How about Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce "Jack" Enrile Jr?
Abad said the son and namesake of the Senate President could not be put in the administration ticket if he is already with UNA. In a press conference in March, Jack Enrile said he was open to joining both LP and UNA.(His father is a stalwart of UNA.)
Chiz, Koko are in
Abad said Escudero, who is very close to President Aquino, is "definitely in."
Senator Pimentel is also in the shortlist. He was earler named as one of LP's priority candidates.
Pimentel recently bolted UNA after protesting the inclusion of resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri. Pimentel and Zubiri fought for the 12th and last slot in the 2007 senatorial elections. Zubiri was declared the winner, but Pimentel lodged a poll protest before the Senate Electoral Protest which last year declared him the true winner.
UNA's slate also includes survey leaders Zubiri, Senator Gringo Honasan, Jack Enrile, and San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito.
Surveys will decide
Reducing the number of bets to 12 will not be easy but it's a "better problem," Abad said.
The candidates' survey ratings will be considered. "We will look at their relative strength. Kung malayo sa survey, sayang naman ang slot," he said.
What do the administration candidates get from Malacañang? The President's endorsement.
"We’re not making any promises. We’re not using government money. We tell them, you have to get support from friends," Abad said. - Rappler.com
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