‘LP-NP union still on despite Trillanes’By Christian V. Esguerra, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ attack on a member of President Benigno Aquino III’s official family, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, will not necessarily jeopardize the ruling Liberal Party’s (LP) planned coalition with the Nacionalista Party (NP), a senior party official said Saturday.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II described as an “isolated incident” Trillanes’ quarrel with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Del Rosario, who is the government’s point man in diplomatic efforts to resolve an ongoing territorial dispute with China.
Gonzales said he did not think it would cause a breakup of the planned coalition between the LP and the NP.
“We should rise above what happened in the Senate. We are trying to form a united ticket as much as possible,” he said.
Gonzales is in the LP panel that is negotiating the party’s coalition with the NP and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) for the 2013 midterm elections.
Put into question
The inclusion of Trillanes, a relatively new NP member, in the administration’s senatorial ticket has been put into question after he criticized Del Rosario over the latter’s handling of the Philippines’ dispute with China over portions of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Enrile had a very public spat with Trillanes, whom he accused of pushing China’s position in backdoor negotiations apparently authorized by the President.
It’s up to NP
Whether Trillanes remains in the administration ticket will depend on the NP, Gonzales said.
“That’s for [the] NP to decide,” he said, noting that the NP was allotted three slots in the coalition slate. Besides Trillanes, the two other slots are for Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Cynthia Villar, former Las Piñas representative and the wife of Sen. Manuel Villar, the NP leader.
The LP is still in the process of completing the administration lineup, especially given the presence of “common” candidates who will also be running under the rival ticket of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Three of these candidates are affiliated with the NPC—Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda and Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile.
Gonzales said Escudero would “likely” be included in the administration slate. He said the LP was still waiting for word from Legarda, whom UNA officials earlier announced had “committed” to run under its banner.
In the case of Jack Enrile, Gonzales said the President was leaving the decision up to the Cagayan congressman and his father, the Senate President.
“President Aquino doesn’t want to influence, in one way or another, the decision of Jack. It will be up to Jack and his father,” he said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the Senate president pro tempore, has said he is willing to help patch things up between the Senate President and Trillanes, after the rancor between the two lawmakers had died down.
“Of course the wounds are still fresh and the situation is still rather hot. Perhaps, we should let a few days pass,” Estrada said.
‘Benjamin’ attacked oldest Estrada said he was “rather hurt” when Trillanes, whom he called the “Benjamin” of the Senate, attacked Enrile, the chamber’s oldest member.
“All his grievances, all his accusations against Senate President Enrile are totally untrue. He said that the bills, especially the one dividing Camarines Sur into two provinces, were being railroaded. That’s totally untrue,” said Estrada, who called himself a close friend and ally of Enrile.
“We are all called honorable gentlemen and I am still hoping they can patch up their differences,” he said.
Trillanes accused Enrile of being a lackey of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for allegedly pushing for the bill that would divide Camarines Sur and create the new province of Nueva Camarines.
No sanctions seen Enrile, who denied the accusation, countered by accusing Trillanes of working for China’s interests while engaging in backroom negotiations with his Chinese contacts in Beijing.
But Estrada does not expect sanctions to be imposed on Trillanes.
“First of all, there should be a member of the Senate who should file a complaint against him. But I don’t really think there will be a senator who will file a complaint against him in the ethics committee,” he said.