Drilon defends allies accused of premature campaigningBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – One of President Benigno Aquino III’s allies in the Senate on Saturday defended at least three known administration candidates for the upper chamber in next year’s elections who have been tagging along with the President while distributing relief goods to people displaced by massive flooding in Metro Manila and the provinces.
“They’re trying to help,” Drilon said in a telephone interview. “I regret that they are being subjected to criticism.”
Drilon was referring to Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chairman Joel Villanueva, Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, who were part of Aquino’s retinue in his visits to various evacuation centers in Metro Manila and the provinces on Thursday and Friday.
Drilon acknowledged, however, that the acts for which his political allies were being criticized were a reality in Philippine politics.
“It only shows the political season has begun. Both parties, the [United Nationalist Alliance] and the Liberal Party have been in the press for the past months,” Drilon said in a clear reference to the run-up to the 2013 mid-term elections.
Asked if he thought there was nothing wrong with the senatorial bets being present in the President’s relief missions, Drilon said, “It’s a judgment call. I sure they can defend their acts.”
Villanueva, Angara and Hontiveros incidentally are some of President Aquino’s candidates for the Senate who are not members of his Liberal Party.
Villanueva is a member of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption partylist; Hontiveros, of the Akbayan partylist; and Angara, of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.
As per President Aquino’s announcement, the LP has had very successful coalition talks with the Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
The administration coalition is expected to contest 12 Senate seats against candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s PDP-Laban and former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.