MANILA, Philippines—Senator Antonio Trillanes’ attacks on a member of President Benigno Aquino’s official family, Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario, will not necessarily jeopardize the Liberal Party’s planned coalition with the Nacionalista Party, a senior administration party official said Saturday.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II described as an “isolated incident” Trillanes’ word war with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Del Rosario, who is the government’s point person in diplomatic efforts to resolve the territorial dispute with China.
“I suppose it would not be a cause for the breakup of the coalition,” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview. “We should rise above what happened in the Senate. We are trying to form a united ticket as much as possible.”
Gonzales is part of the LP panel negotiating the administration party’s possible coalition with the NP and the Nationalist People’s Coalition for next year’s midterm elections.
The inclusion of Trillanes, a relatively new member of the NP, on the administration’s senatorial ticket was put in question after he criticized Del Rosario, a seasoned diplomat considered the President’s alter ego on foreign affairs.
Trillanes and Del Rosario crossed swords over the government’s diplomatic approach on the Philippines’ dispute with China over portions of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Enrile had his own verbal spat with Trillanes, whom he accused of pushing China’s position in backroom negotiations authorized by the President.
Whether Trillanes would remain on the administration ticket would depend on the NP, according to Gonzales.
“That’s for NP to decide,” he said, noting that the NP was allotted three slots on the senatorial ticket. Besides Trillanes, the two others are Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and former Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar.
The LP is still in the process of completing the administration lineup, especially given the presence of “common” candidates who are also expected to run under the rival ticket of the United Nationalist Alliance.
Three of these candidates are affiliated with the NPC—Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda and Cagayan Representative Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr.
Gonzales said Escudero would “likely” be included on the administration slate. He said the LP was still awaiting word from Legarda. UNA officials earlier announced that Legarda had “committed” to run under its banner.
In the case of Enrile, Gonzales said the President was leaving the decision solely on the Cagayan congressman and his father.
“President Aquino doesn’t want to influence, in one way or another, the decision of Jack. It would be up to Jack and his father,” he said.