LP united; 2016 talks on schedule — Belmonte, Drilon
TWO Liberal Party stalwarts and top government officials on Tuesday dismissed reports of an impending split over disagreements on who to support during the 2016 elections.
“This is all in accordance with schedule,” Senate President Franklin Drilon told Inquirer when asked about the series of meetings President Benigno Aquino III has held with Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., on the other hand, said the LP coalition in the House of Representatives “is very intact.”
“The LP itself has proven quite united. Considering that the LP itself counts about fifty percent of its members as people who are formerly non-LPs, I noticed we are a very united bunch,” he said.
“Well, I certainly have no intention of leaving the LP,” he said in another interview also held at Malacañang.
Many initially perceived that Roxas would be anointed as Aquino’s preferred successor. But Poe has recently beaten Vice President Jejomar Binay in the Pulse Asia pre-election poll. She is considering running in tandem with Escudero, both as independents.
Reports said Aquino will declare his decision after his last State of the Nation Address on July 27. But after two meetings, he again met with Poe on Monday afternoon. Their discussion lasted for five hours and the senator said she sensed Aquino was in a “very difficult position.”
Belmonte said “in effect, the field is still open” and that nobody has been chosen.
At the same time, Belmonte dismissed claims that LP members are dismayed with the current situation — wherein Aquino has yet to make up his mind on who to support.
“The statements for instance that some coalition members, in fact they are saying some LP members are not exactly happy, I would like to say that there’s no basis for such statement. I think we are all working as a team,” the Speaker said.
He also said that the ideal situation would be to have a “single ticket representing the administration.”
“Any combination is a good one. The best one is that [we have one ticket] supportive of the administration,” he said.
Later Belmonte said, “ I think she (Poe) is a good candidate. And certainly I believe as well that Secretary Mar Roxas is super well prepared to take over the presidency. But at this stage of the game, I don’t like to say anything.”
Asked if the Vice President has been benefitting from the delay in the LP’s announcement of its standard-bearer, Drilon said, “That is beside the point. The President himself feels that the reforms that he has initiated must be continued in the next administration.”
“The coalition that he formed in 2010 and 2013 would be the best set up so that we could continue the reforms,” Drilon added.
On whether or not it would benefit Binay, Drilon said it did not cross their minds.
Aquino has told Poe and Escudero that he wanted the LP-led coalition to remain intact, referring to the need to keep all of them under one slate.
Both Belmonte and Drilon said they didn’t know about Poe’s recent meeting with the president.
“I expect that within the next day or so if something important really happened other than a continuation of their conversation or consultation as they call it, I guess we will get to know something about it. At this point I don’t want to hazard a guess because it is a work in progress,” Belmonte said.
He added, however, that it is possible that the “small group” of Aquino, Roxas, Poe and Escudero have been discussing who should run as president and vice president in the 2016 elections.
Belmonte said the President met with him, Drilon and Secretaries Butch Abad and Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya last week.
“He had just briefed us on the fact that he had talked with Senators Poe and Escudero the previous night. And he gave us a quick roundup of what they had talked about and the conclusion of which was that he said, ‘Okay you go ahead and think it over and consult with people and so forth,’” Belmonte told other Palace reporters.
He told Inquirer that he also gave inputs but he did not want to divulge the details.
“In the last meeting between us and the President where he briefed the Senate President and myself about the previous meeting he did say that I hope you guys are behind me on my efforts to resolve this matter and both Drilon and myself said ‘Yes, we are behind you,’” he added.
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