Is room not big enough for 2 Magsaysays in Senate?By Christian V. Esguerra, Gil C. Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Are two Magsaysays better than one in the Senate?
Former Sen. Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr. on Friday confirmed that he is joining next year’s senatorial election and would not mind running against Rep. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, a relative in Zambales.
“I will give credit to voters. We have very educated voters and they will say who the more qualified candidate is, what the record of each of us is,” Jun Magsaysay told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
“If they want to vote for two Magsaysays, that’s possible,” he said, enumerating the scenarios. “But it might be that both of us will lose. Or she will win and I will lose or I will win and she may lose. There are four possible outcomes. I leave it to the voters. I believe in the voters’ instinct and good intelligence.”
The 74-year-old Magsaysay, who completed his second term as senator in 2007, said he accepted an invitation to run under the ruling Liberal Party last May, after consulting with family and friends. He admitted that he considered Mitos Magsaysay’s candidacy before making his decision.
“I said I have to talk to my wife, family and I have to check with some other people in light of my niece, Mitos, who was also running,” he recalled telling the group of Sen. Franklin Drilon, who sought to include him in the LP lineup.
“I had to clear up everything and finally, all of these people gave me the go-signal,” he added, noting, however, that it would be the LP national executive committee—and President Aquino—who would ultimately decide whether he would make it to the administration ticket.
Mitos Magsaysay is the daughter-in-law of Jun Magsaysay’s cousin, former Zambales Gov. Vicente Magsaysay. The former senator described his cousin as “like a brother to me.” He said he was in touch with Vicente, but has not talked with Mitos lately.
‘The real Magsaysay’
Drilon broke the news about Jun Magsaysay’s candidacy Thursday, saying the LP was fielding “the real Magsaysay.” The statement was seen as an attack on Mitos Magsaysay, who earlier announced her senatorial bid under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Jun Magsaysay said he had no problem going against Mitos Magsaysay in the same senatorial race.
“She’s her own person. She has her own qualifications and she has decided,” he said. “In my case, [my decision to run is] exclusive of what she did. I was offered [a slot] by the administration party and I thought of it very well.”
Jun Magsaysay sought to “simplify the issue” between his and his niece’s candidacy.
“Here’s a person who has been supporting the past administration (of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo). Mitos used to be with Lakas. Now, she is with UNA. That’s fine,” the former senator said.
No switching loyalties
In his case, Magsaysay said he “tried to maintain the standards” of his late father, former President Ramon Magsaysay. “Hindi naman ako pabali-balikwas (I don’t switch loyalties),” he said.
Jun Magsaysay, who used to be with Arroyo’s Senate coalition, noted that he investigated the P728-million fertilizer fund scam despite his alliance with the then President. The administration was then accused of diverting the fund and using it in the 2004 elections.
“I continued the public hearings and I suffered then,” he said, recalling Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 464, which kept government officials from testifying in Congress without Palace approval.
We waited for this leader
Jun Magsaysay said he agreed to Drilon’s invitation to continue the “reforms” he tried to push while he was a senator from 1995 to 2007.
“The main thing was after the impeachment, it suddenly dawned on me that this is the leader that we have been waiting for,” he said. “The President put out a lot of risk, and part of his political capital, to make this happen, to clean up the judiciary, starting with the highest.”
Based on a number of sources from Malacañang and Congress, the President has personally taken a direct hand in filling the administration’s senatorial ticket with his political allies from the Liberal Party making only recommendations.
“Most of the President’s choices are from other political parties and nongovernment organizations, with only two or three coming from the LP. This shows how involved the President is in the selection process and that current political affiliations would not get in the way of establishing firmer control of the Senate in the second half of his term,” said a non-LP representative who requested anonymity.
Aside from former Sen. Jun Magsaysay, the administration coalition slate would include the five reelectionists—Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano.
The President has earlier named three of his bets—Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Joel Villanueva and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros.
Other LP bets
The sources said the President’s first cousin, former National Youth Commission chair Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares were “high” on the list of the President. The sources said the President was also open to include former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, with negotiations between the LP and the Nacionalista Party going smoothly.
The other candidates shortlisted by the President were Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, Customs Chief Rufino Biazon and his deputy, former Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim.
The sources said both Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima have been asked to stay in their current posts.
Tags: 2013 midterm elections , Former Sen. Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay , Liberal Party , Rep. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay , Sen. Franklin Drilon , Senate , senatorial elections , UNA , United Nationalist Alliance , Zambales