MANILA, Philippines -- Former senator Francisco Tatad has quit the United Opposition (UNO) following the group's decision to draft senatorial candidates -- including the son of the opposition's avowed leader, deposed president Joseph Estrada -- who are related to incumbent senators
In a letter dated January 15 to the former president, who is detained at his estate in Tanay, Rizal, Tatad said he felt insulted when he heard news that UNO drafted Estrada's son San Juan Mayor Joseph Victor Ejercito, Pateros-Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and lawyer Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III as senatorial candidates despite Tatad's yet-to-be-addressed reservations.
"The obvious assumption is that the voters are so pissed off with [President Macapagal-Arroyo] that they will eat any kind of dung we give them. This is false," Tatad said.
"(Should) error and madness prevail, three families would be holding six Senate seats -- one-fourth of the Senate -- after May 2007," he added.
Tatad said that at a meeting of opposition leaders during Estrada's News Year's Day pass in Greenhills, he raised the issue of the opposition dabbling in dynasty-building with the inclusion of Ejercito, Cayetano and Pimentel despite the incumbency of Senators Jose ?Jinggoy? Estrada (Ejercito's half-brother) and Pia Cayetano (Cayetano's sister) and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. (Pimentel III?s father).
"In that meeting, I waited to hear someone say I was wrong. But there was no effort to shoot down or refute my objection," Tatad told Estrada in his letter.
"You will therefore understand why, when you and [former senator Ernesto] Ernie Maceda agreed to release to the media the names of the three wonders as part of your proposed ticket while my objection was waiting to be addressed, I felt that my long service to the opposition and my presence in that meeting had just been annulled," he added.
Tatad said he no longer saw the need for him to stay in the UNO.
"That was the worst slap I had ever received -- and from my party colleagues yet. For that reason, I decided that any future participation in any UNO activity on my part would be completely superfluous," Tatad said.
Among those at the January 1 meeting, according to Tatad's letter, were UNO president Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, Senator Alfredo Lim, Minority Floor Leader Francis Escudero, former senators Vicente Sotto III, and Maceda, former Agrarian Reform secretary Horacio Morales and Caloocan Representative Luis Asistio.
"I would have been proud to campaign for these young men if this one impediment did not exist or if their next of kin gave up their Senate seats right now," Tatad said.
"I would rather encourage JV Ejercito to go for a third term as mayor of San Juan, Koko Pimentel to try his luck a second time in Cagayan De Oro where he lost his mayoralty bid when his father was Senate President; and Alan Peter to do something exciting in Taguig in the meantime," he added.
Tatad said that when Senator Jinggoy ran for the Senate in 2004 while his mother, former First Lady and now Senator Luisa Estrada was just entering the latter half of her six-year term, he defended the Estrada son's candidacy as a way to validate the deposed president?s support from the people after being deposed in January 2001.
"Political dynasties are either appreciated or hated, tolerated or feared. But even in the worst of cases, dynastic family members try simultaneously to occupy as many different offices as possible, or else they alternate or rotate in holding on to a particular office that allows them to exercise power," Tatad said.
"This is precisely what the three young men's senatorial bid threatens to alter," he added.
Tatad said Estrada approached him after the UNO meeting in Greenhills and told him that Estrada wanted him in the ticket.
"[You] came over to say you would like to have me included in your senatorial slate. I begged off," Tatad said.
"You did not say so but you seemed to be under the impression that I was objecting to certain candidacies because I wanted to be a candidate myself. That was not the point at all.. We should know each other well enough by now for you to know if there was anything I have ever done or would ever do just for my own self-interest," he added.