Palace: We thought UNA was the team to beat

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02:10 AM July 17th, 2012

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July 17th, 2012 02:10 AM

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Malacañang on Monday rebuffed those advocating for a “super coalition” between the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada.

“I thought UNA was the team to beat, so why are they asking for a coalition?” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said  in a briefing at the Palace.

San Juan City Representative Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito floated the possibility of forming a “super senatorial slate” over the weekend, saying it was a logical move.

“It will be ideal since there is no clear-cut line between the opposition and the administration unlike during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s time in 2007,” said Ejercito, the son of Estrada by San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez.

Ejercito, however, has admitted that forming a super ticket composed of the LP and its prospective partners—the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino and Akbayan—and UNA’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan would be easier said than done.

In Malacañang, Lacierda was asked by reporters about the primary consideration of President Aquino in drawing up the senatorial slate of the LP, particularly on guest candidates.

“Well, we can’t comment on that yet until LP decides to finally announce its slate. And the slate, as … Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has already mentioned, will be a coalition slate. As to who will be the senatorial candidate of the particular slate, let’s wait for the announcement from the Liberal Party,” said Lacierda.

Lacierda, however, agreed to discuss the possible scenarios.

Adopting Escudero

For instance, Lacierda disclosed that there had been discussions over Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s adoption as a guest candidate of LP.

Escudero, a close friend of President Benigno Aquino, is now an independent after he bolted the NPC in the runup to the 2010 elections.

“But again, that’s something that we have yet to discuss. Well, let’s wait for the LP to make a decision on that matter. We don’t want to preempt the LP to announce the candidates,” said Lacierda.

Asked who in the LP called  the shots, Lacierda said: “It’s a discussion between … the President, Senator Mar Roxas and some of the leaders of the LP.”

Secretary Ricky Carandang, chief of the Presidential Communications Group,  said he was not aware of “any extensive talks” about any super coalition.

“The idea has been floated, both privately and in the media, of a Liberal Party-UNA coalition. I’m sure you’ve heard about it… But there has been nothing that I can say beyond that. The idea is being floated,” he said.

OK with Binay

Binay, head of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and one of UNA’s leaders, on Monday said he was open to the possibility of UNA joining forces with the LP to form a “super coalition.”

He said no conflict of interest would arise from such a merger since “the kind of opposition that the UNA represents differs from the common and negative perception of the term in the country.”

According to Binay, UNA would be willing to help Mr. Aquino in his “tuwid na daan” campaign.

Patterned after Britain

“The UNA is for constructive opposition, patterned after Britain’s Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, which is the official opposition in the United Kingdom and other countries, such as Canada and Australia,” Binay said.

According to Ejercito, the LP and UNA had more things in common than differences, so that forming a super senatorial slate which would run unopposed next year should be the “natural thing to do.”

“I still believe having one super is the ideal scenario. There are certain policies and advocacies of the LP and UNA that are similar which was the reason that in 2007, we were together in the Genuine Opposition,” said Ejercito.

“But the LP is just too proud to accept that proposal,” he said, conceding that it may be too late to push for a single slate at this point.

Senators Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV  and  former Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar are being considered for inclusion in the senatorial lineup of both the LP and UNA.

A source said UNA had offered a 5-7 or 4-8 sharing with the LP with the President getting to pick the bulk of the senatorial bets.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday laughed off speculations he could  end up running on the same ticket as former Representative Juan Miguel Zubiri in the event a “super coalition” emerged.

“That would be the irony of ironies, he he,”  Pimentel said in a text message when asked about the awkward scenario.

Pimentel has ruled out a super coalition: “I don’t think that will ever happen.” With Cathy C. Yamsuan

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