Tanada says FOI Bill had nothing to do with his quitting senatorial raceBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines — Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III on Thursday denied reports that he was excluded from the Liberal Party’s ticket due to his persistence that the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill be approved at the House of Representatives.
In a text message to INQUIRER.net, the Quezon lawmaker said that the “FoI had nothing to do with my decision to drop out of the Senate race.”
He is speaking for the first time since President Benigno Aquino III announced that Tanada had respectfully bowed out of the administration senatorial slate to give the chief executive a free hand to choose candidates.
Tanada also admitted that he was offered to run under the United Nationalist Alliance, but he “respectfully declined.”
In a statement, the lawmaker thanked Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada for their invitation that he run in their senatorial ticket instead. Speculation on whether he would take on another political party’s offer rose after UNA’s senatorial bet San Juan Representative Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito offered Tanada a spot in their slate.
The lawmaker also thanked the Makabayan Coalition which is carrying Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino’s bid for a Senate seat next year, for its offer that he run with their support.
“But as a true believer that we must persist in having consistent political parties as part of our national building effort and as an advocate for political party and campaign reform, I had respectfully declined their invitation,” he said.
He echoed the President’s explanation for his exclusion from the Liberal Party’s senatorial ticket, saying “it is true I sacrificed myself so he (Aquino) would have a “free hand” in choosing who he believes should comprise the administration ticket.”
“After serious reflection and consultation with my family, friends and supporters, I have decided not to pursue my Senate bid even as an independent candidate,” said Tanada. He earlier said that it would be difficult to run as an independent candidate in the midterm polls, saying that the LP’s support was important to him.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares and even House minority leader Danilo Suarez considered Tanada’s exclusion from the senatorial race unfortunate, admitting that the three-term congressman was more than capable of taking on challenges as a Senator.
Belmonte earlier said that having come from a family of great politicians like his father former Senator Wigberto Tanada and his grandfather former Senator Lorenzo Tanada, “the grand old man of Philippine politics,” there was no doubt that the Quezon lawmaker was more than capable of becoming a senator.
Suarez, like Angara, urged Tanada to wait for an offer to serve the government in another capacity. Angara said that he felt Aquino had better plans for the deputy speaker in either the Cabinet or other agencies of the government.
“I want to assure everyone that I will remain a most willing partner in pushing for people’s issues and I commit to continue serving the people in whatever capacity in the future,” Tanada maintained.