Aquino would welcome Pimentel to admin Senate slate – LlamasBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino would “graciously welcome” Senator Aquilino Pimentel III to the administration ticket if the president of the PDP-Laban decides to join the ruling coalition’s senatorial slate in 2013, Aquino’s political adviser Ronald Llamas said on Friday.
This developed as a Liberal Party stalwart in the Cabinet, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, said negotiations for Pimentel’s inclusion on the administration’s senatorial slate would happen soon following the senator’s announcement of his decision not to run on the slate of the United Nationalist Alliance.
Llamas said Aquino and Pimentel clearly share the same advocacies and principles “especially against electoral fraud, impunity and the promotion of a more credible and transparent electoral system.”
“I’m sure the President understands the sentiments of Senator Koko regarding the inclusion of several questionable personalities on the UNA slate which goes against his principles and values,” Llamas said in a text message to reporters.
“So I think the President will graciously welcome Senator Koko if he should decide to join the administration ticket for 2013,” he added.
Abad, on the other hand, said the administration was open to the idea of Pimentel joining its fold in next year’s senatorial elections.
He said the administration had been waiting for Pimentel’s decision on whether to stay on the UNA slate because of its inclusion of former Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri. Pimentel had accused Zubiri of cheating him in the 2007 elections.
Zubiri was initially proclaimed a winner in the 2007 elections and served for four years in the Senate before resigning in 2011. He acknowledged that fraud had taken place but denied that he was involved.
“We are open, if he is interested. We just gave him time to sort out his situation with UNA,” Abad said. “Now that he has made up his mind, there is room for talks, and that will happen soon.”
Aquino and Pimentel ran under the same Genuine Opposition senatorial slate backed by former President Joseph Estrada in 2007.
It was a powerhouse opposition ticket that also included Senator Manuel Villar, who would also run for President in 2010; Senator Panfilo Lacson, a presidential candidate in 2004; and two-time vice presidential candidate Senator Loren Legarda.