Politics is addition: Aquino willing to work with Marcos
Politics is addition. That is a long accepted adage.
Malacañang on Thursday welcomed politicians identified with the other side of the political fence—party mates of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—to be part of a grand coalition of the administration for the May 2013 polls.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda did not see anything odd with the political arrangement. He said in a Malacañang briefing the Aquino administration could not just close the door on those supportive of the President’s legislative agenda in both chambers of Congress.
“I think during the past two years they have been supportive of the programs of the President,” said Lacierda, when the Philippine Daily Inquirer asked him if he saw nothing wrong with uniting with the Nacionalista Party (NP), Marcos’ party.
Mr. Aquino’s father, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., was killed during the regime of Marcos’s father, the strongman Ferdinand Marcos. The elder Marcos in turn was ousted during the 1986 People Power revolution which installed the President’s late mother, Corazon Aquino, in the presidency.
The NP is fielding Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV as its senatorial candidates.
Asked how the President would see this latching together of divergent political parties, Lacierda said what was “important” was their support for the reform agenda of Mr. Aquino.
“We don’t have any problem with that. We need allies … in pushing for reform in our administration. And if we can get these lawmakers to support our reform agenda, then well and good,” said Lacierda.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said he was OK with a coalition with the National Unity Party (NUP) that is made up mostly of House members that staunchly defended then President Arroyo during attempts to impeach her and from allegations of corruption during her administration.
“Nelson Mandela once said that in a democracy we need to learn to work with people we dislike, in reference to those who in the past supported apartheid,” said Pangilinan.
“For as long as we are all clear that it is the President who calls the shots, then it is incumbent upon the LP (Liberal Party) to build the broadest unity possible among various political forces willing to lend their support to the President’s reform agenda,” he added.
Cayetano also saw nothing wrong with coalescing with Arroyo’s allies, even admitting the coalition would be beneficial to the administration.
“Is it pragmatic? Yes. Is it a compromise? No,” Cayetano told reporters in an interview.
Cayetano is a member of the NP which has forged a coalition with the LP for the May 2013 elections.
Other members of the LP-led coalition for next year’s polls are the Nationalist People’s Coalition and now the NUP.
“The coalition will not protect them,” said Cayetano of politicians who may be joining just to get away with any anomalies they may have committed in the past.
“It is not a get-out-of-jail card,” he said.
On Thursday, Lacierda would not disclose details of a meeting between Mr. Aquino and Sen. Loren Legarda in Malacañang, which from all indications showed the reelectionist senator had yet to sign on the dotted line.
Lacierda even appeared surprised when asked about the meeting.
The Inquirer reported Thursday that President Arroyo had sought the meeting with Legarda to talk about her running as a common candidate of the LP and its opposition rival, the United Nationalist Alliance.
“I’m not aware of it. I know that Secretary Mar Roxas and Secretary Jun Abaya were meeting with the President. I’m not sure if Senator Legarda was, I was not present in that meeting,” said Lacierda.
“We discussed many things, including foreign relations,” said Legarda in a phone interview.
She would neither confirm nor deny if she had accepted the President’s invitation to join the LP-led administration senatorial slate.
“Abangan (Watch for it),” was all she would say.
The Aquino administration has to learn to work with people it doesn’t like to make sure its reform agenda succeeds in Congress, an LP senator said on Thursday in the wake of the LP’s formal alliance with the NUP.
Sen. Francis Escudero, an independent and an ally of President Aquino, said the NUP had long been supportive of the President. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria