MANILA, Philippines?The Liberal Party is not letting go of former Sen. Ralph Recto and Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos even as it tries to reconcile with former Sen. Serge Osmeña who has left the party in protest of Recto?s inclusion in its senatorial slate.
LP campaign manager Florencio ``Butch?? Abad said Friday that when he last spoke to Osmeña, the latter had not sought for the removal of Recto in the slate, but nevertheless, he stressed that he did not think that the party would let this happen.
``They?re already with us,?? Abad said of Recto and Santos. ``It?s not a wise thing to do to get them out when they?re already in.??
Abad reiterated the party together with ``friends and relatives?? continue to exhaust efforts to reconcile with and keep Osmeña in the LP even if the latter had already announced he had left the party.
Like Recto, Osmeña is among the senatorial candidates of the LP.
``But at the end of the day, it?s (Osmeña?s) decision,?? Abad also conceded, in a phone interview.
He said that he and other party mates got to see Osmeña Thursday night during a party fund-raising event where the former senator?s wife was a "prime mover.??
But Abad said he only got to exchange pleasantries with Osmeña as he expressed doubt that the latter was able to speak with LP standard bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy?? Aquino III.
Osmeña confirmed the other day he has left the party because he did not want Recto in the LP lineup, calling him "pro-GMA?? for doing nothing to expose shenanigans in President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo?s administration as head of the National Economic and Development Authority.
The former senator had also said he was "fed up with the inside fighting, with the Mafia in the Liberal Party.
Osmeña also said he was double-crossed because party officials "kept (him) in the dark?? about their decision to include Recto, even if he had already expressed his objections.
To these comments, Abad and former Senate President Franklin Drilon, LP national chair, denied there was infighting in its ranks and defended the entry of Recto and Santos in the party.
"If at all, we underestimated his deep sentiments about his objections,?? Abad said of Osmeña, adding he did not think that this would lead to Osmeña bolting the party.
But he said the decision to bring in Recto and Santos came from deliberations of the party.
They considered, among others, the fact that Batangas was a "big?? and ``important?? province and that it was the only province in the Southern Tagalog region where the Liberal Party had no strong base.
As for infighting in the party, Abad conceded there were ``certain debates within the party.??
He said there were ``idealists?? and ``pragmatists?? in the LP, noting that Aquino and his running mate Sen. Mar Roxas, after all, drew in not only liberals but members of the civil society and party-list groups.
After all, he said that ``you want to wrest support.??
But in turn, Abad said that broad political forces within the party ``produce ideas?? that ``not all the time (were) in agreement.??
That was why he said the party tries to make a ``delicate balancing act.??
``It?s a healthy debate. It?s important to have the element of dreaming and winning,?? Abad said.
Asked on the effect of Osmeña?s departure from the party, Abad said the former senator was a ``valuable asset?? as he was a ``veteran policy maker, hardworking and a sharp analyst of surveys and political developments.??
``He will certainly be a loss,?? Abad said of Osmeña.
For his part, Drilon, who is also a senatorial candidate of LP, said he has not spoken to Osmeña about the issue and that ``it remains to be seen?? what would happen next.
``But we have to move on in our effort to effect change and to convince our people we deserve their support,?? he added.
Drilon said he was ``not aware of serious conflicts in the party?? and that he was not surprised at all if detractors would try to make this kind of spin.