UNA slams door on other partiesBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has closed the door on other political parties that may want to join the coalition for next year’s midterm elections.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile Sunday said the coalition’s national directorate had decided to keep the alliance strictly between the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to avoid local level in-fighting.
“That’s final,” Enrile said in a radio interview.
The PMP is led by movie star and former President Joseph Estrada, while PDP-Laban is headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
Enrile, a senior leader of the PMP, said coalition officials arrived at the decision to avoid any possibility of alliance partners battling it out in the local elections.
“If you would have all parties under the umbrella of UNA, they will be fighting it out down below because you cannot control the members of the respective parties at the local level from putting up their respective candidates,” he said in Filipino.
This was apparently the case with the previous alliance between the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Kalipunan ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) party. Even a tedious arbitration process failed to resolve a number of deeply-rooted conflicts at the local level.
“In order to serve the national interest and the people, [we decided] to limit the alliance to PDP-Laban and PMP,” said Enrile, whose son, Rep. Jack Enrile, is eyeing a slot in UNA’s senatorial lineup.
Not a family affair
Enrile defended his son’s possible inclusion in the ticket, given the possibility that a Jack Enrile victory would mean a father-and-son tandem in the same chamber in the next Congress. The father’s six-year term will not end until 2016.
Enrile rejected the idea of a “family affair” dominating Philippine politics. At present, siblings Pia Cayetano and Alan Peter Cayetano are both senators, he pointed out. They emerged on the national political scene apparently on the strength of the name of their late father, Sen. Renato Cayetano.
“I’m not the one who will decide whether or not he will become a senator of the country. It’s the people that will decide,” Enrile said, adding that critics of his family should enter politics and “raise the issue.”
“Nobody is preventing them from running, but why prevent somebody simply because he happens to be my son, [why] deprive the country of the services of somebody simply because he is related to somebody in government?” he said.
If his son wins, Enrile said he would “slow down” in politics, especially given his age.
“I will help him but my presence in the national scene will be toned down,” he said. “I have accepted the fact that I am already far advanced in time. I will accompany him in the last three years of my term. I will not run again.”
But before officially joining UNA, he said Jack would first seek the blessings of businessman Eduardo Cojuangco of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, of which is he a member, according to his father.
“Pupuntahan niya si Tito Danding niya at magpapaalam [He will go to his Uncle Danding and ask permission to leave],” the elder Enrile said.
The UNA coalition is expected to clash head on with the ruling Liberal Party-led coalition of President Benigno Aquino III in next year’s legislative and local elections. Binay is expected to be its standard bearer in the presidential race in 2016.