Madrigal may be spoiler in LP-NP marriageBy Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
There is just one possible spoiler to a Liberal-Nacionalista coalition: taking in Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal as a senatorial candidate.
Otherwise, the marriage of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) to its erstwhile rival, the Nacionalista Party (NP), is a done deal with President Benigno Aquino and Senator Manuel Villar agreeing to join forces for next year’s midterm polls.
“It’s just the icing on the cake that’s lacking. It’s baked and ready for serving,” NP spokesperson Robert “Ace” Barbers told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview Thursday.
A former senator and a loser in the 2010 presidential election, Madrigal is being considered by some quarters in the ruling party as a senatorial candidate.
“She is on the short list of those being considered,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, an LP stalwart, said when asked by the Inquirer to confirm a tip from several unimpeachable sources that Madrigal could run as administration senatorial candidate.
The LP-NP alliance, unthinkable just two years ago, was agreed upon by Mr. Aquino, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas and Senator Villar.
Aquino and Roxas are chairman and president of the LP, respectively, while Villar is the president of the NP.
Sources privy to the talks told the Inquirer that Mr. Aquino and Villar didn’t mind burying the hatchet for the sake of political expediency.
Three erstwhile rivals
But the thought of three erstwhile presidential rivals—if Madrigal is taken in by the LP—sharing one political stage just two years after the bitterly contested 2010 presidential election has riled Villar, according to the sources.
At least three slots on the LP’s senatorial slate have been allotted to the NP’s candidates for senators: Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar, the senator’s spouse; Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Trillanes, who won as an independent in 2007, joined the NP two weeks ago.
“Three slots look firm for the NP—Trillanes, Cayetano and Villar,” said Abad, when contacted by the Inquirer on Thursday.
A fourth senatorial slot for the NP (for Barbers) is still being negotiated, but Abad wouldn’t talk about it in public, for now.
For other administration senatorial candidates, the President earlier indicated his support for several politicians outside the LP, including Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, former Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel of Akbayan Citizens’ Party, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva of Cibac, and his nephew, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV.
Presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas indicated that reelectionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, president of the PDP-Laban, would be welcome to join the administration senatorial team.
Pimentel quit the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) formed by Binay’s PDP-Laban and Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, after UNA announced that it would be fielding resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri as a senatorial candidate next year.
The LP and NP leaders are ironing out a few minor kinks in the alliance involving local politics, Abad said.
“There’s been an agreement in principle to coalesce,” Abad said. “After we agree on the basis for coalition, we will then move into details—from national to local positions.”
The negotiations center on local politics since both the LP and the NP have sitting officials in at least five provinces.
Both Abad and Barbers begged off from naming these provinces so as not to upset the talks.
“Three representatives each from the LP and the NP will be meeting soon to hammer out an agreement” was all Abad could divulge as of Thursday.