LP unfazed despite being minority in own 2013 poll coalitionBy Leila B. Salaveria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino’s Liberal Party is still a minority in its own senatorial slate.
At present, only two Liberal Party (LP) members are among the 15 to 16 candidates being eyed for the coalition ticket of the LP, the Nacionalista Party, and the Nationalist People’s Coalition, according to LP Secretary General Joseph Abaya.
The two are Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada and either Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon or Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon.
But Abaya also said this number might increase with the probable oathtaking of more candidates as LP members. Among the 16 being considered, the LP might convince close to half to move to the party.
“Of course, there are people there who we think we could either convince or require that they formally join the party,” he said in a press briefing.
Former Senator Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay and the President’s cousin Paulo Benigno Aquino are not yet LP members, but are expected to take their oath.
Abaya acknowledged that the LP could not fill up the 12 senatorial slots on its own.
Asked what the small LP showing in the lineup conveyed about the strength of the President’s own party, Abaya defended the LP, saying it started out small when President Aquino won in the 2010 elections and has been careful in screening politicians who wanted to join the party.
“We did not do what the traditional parties did before, that we just opened our doors regardless of who was coming in. We observed certain processes and we made sure they are of the same mind and similar principles and beliefs as those of the President. Not everyone would fit into that,” he said in an ambush interview.
He noted that those who ran under the LP during the 2010 elections numbered around 40, and it grew to 80 upon the convening of congress. Two years after, the membership only grew by seven, he said.
According to Abaya, the LP is entering into a coalition to support the senatorial candidates.
The coalition may extend to partnership at the grassroots level, which could translate to more support for the candidates for higher posts.
Disputes between local candidates from the same coalition might be inevitable, but Abaya said the party has been working to minimize these conflicts. Such situations might be more the exception than the rule, though, he added.
The President earlier named his preferred candidates for the Senate, and majority of them were not his party mates.
They include former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva, who is from of Cibac party list, and Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara from Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.
Aquino has also indicated his support for Customs Commissioner Biazon as senatorial candidate.