[PHOTO -Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda should stop issuing personal statements on the possible coalition between the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and the Liberal Party, which is showing its weakness by recruiting bets from other parties, said UNA spokesman, laywer JV Bautista, early Wednesday in an interview with John Susi of Radyo Inquirer 990 AM. Bautista said the coalition will pose a lot of problems because of the electoral protest of Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II against Vice President Jejomar Binay. Roxas lost the vice presidency to Binay in the 2010 elections.]

MANILA, JULY 21, 2012 (MANILA BULLETIN) By CHARISSA M. LUCI - A high-ranking House leader thumbed down on Tuesday the possible forging of a “super coalition” between President Benigno S. Aquino III’s Liberal Party (LP) and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), saying that the ruling administration party’s partnership with two other political parties is already enough.

House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Representative Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II, a member of President Aquino’s party, said the LP is fine even without forging ties with the UNA, describing as “awkward” the possible LP-UNA coalition.

“Okay na ‘yun (LP-NP-NPC coalition). It would look awkward if LP and UNA join forces,” Gonzales told reporters in yesterday’s Ugnayan sa Batasan forum after UNA expressed readiness to the possible super coalition with LP.

Talks are ongoing for LP’s coalition with Nacionalista Party (NP) of Senator Manny Villar, and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) of business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco.

Gonzales said it would not look good if such super coalition will be pursued after UNA included the allies of detained former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in its list of senatorial bets for the 2013 midterm polls.

They were former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Zambales Representative Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, and Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

The House leader said the UNA first declared that they have complete senatorial line-up and would not coalesce with other major political parties such as the LP, NP, and NPC.

“UNA came forward first, they said their slate is already full. I find it very awkward now that there are talks of a coalition of LP and UNA considering that LP is already in advance talks regarding the coalition with NPC and NP. They said first that they are full, and now there’s this plan to coalesce,” Gonzales explained.

He said it is up to the LP leadership if they would give in to the proposal.

San Juan City Representative Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, a would-be senatorial candidate of LP, said the super coalition will not happen.

“Mahirap talagang mangyari ang super coalition dahil may kanya-kanyang interes-pulitikal. Ang sabi ko naman na ‘yun ang ‘ideal’ para kay P-Noy pero malabong mangyari,” he said.

Those names who were initially included in UNA’s list, and are reportedly running under the LP banner include Senators Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Koko Pimentel, Loren Legarda, and Antonio Trillanes.

LP sources said Cagayan Representative Jack Enrile, son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, would possibly run under the LP ticket, while Senator Gregorio Honasan wanted to be adopted as common candidate of the LP and UNA.

Honasan was earlier declared as UNA’s senatorial bet.

Included in the list of senatorial candidates were Technical and Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director-General Joel Villanueva, Aurora Representative Sonny Angara, former Akbayan Party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros, former Las Piñas City Representative Cynthia Villar, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., and President Aquino’s cousin Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV.

Also eyed to run under the LP slate were former Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Ace Barbers, Deputy Speaker and Quezon Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada who is the spokesman of LP, and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairperson Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

In a related development, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay would like to be under the radar this coming 2013 midterm elections.

This developed after Binay, said to be the early favorite to win the 2016 presidential election because of his consistent high satisfaction ratings for the past two years, stressed that he is not the one pushing for a “super coalition” between his UNA and the ruling LP.

Binay, who had admitted his desire to seek the presidency in 2016, said he would not want to be targeted by a demolition job this early by his foes.

“Sabi ko nga, kaya ako hindi masyadong involved sa 2013 election na ito ay ang aking mga kaibigan na tumitingala ng 2016 ay mag-u-umpisa nang maghanap ng kung anong ibabatikos sa akin. (I don’t want to get myself involved in the 2013 elections too much because my ‘friends’ who are looking at 2016 will start to plot against me),” Binay said in an interview before he left for Tokyo last Monday to keynote the SecureAsia 2012 cybersecurity conference.

Binay earlier claimed that a “dossier” is being prepared against him by his political opponents who, he said, may want to discourage him this early from the political race.

He said certain groups are trying to re-open old cases against him in a bid to spread black propaganda and eventually smear his image.

The Vice President whose Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) had forged an alliance with the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of former President Joseph Estrada to form UNA, a move seen as a preparation for the 2013 mid-term and 2016 presidential polls.

Binay stressed that he does not know anything about the “super coalition” being proposed between UNA and LP.

He theorized that someone from the UNA may have pushed for the “backdoor talks” with LP.

“Or the other way around,” he said.

Nonetheless, Binay welcomed the proposed coalition saying it would be “political suicide” for a political party not to entertain coalitions with other parties.

“Super coalition? Okay ‘yun (That would be fine with us),” Binay said when asked about Ejercito’s proposal for a “super senatorial slate” between the LP and UNA.

Ejercito, son of Binay’s ally, former President Estrada, reportedly said the LP, which is also in talks for a coalition with the NP and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) “would be the best scenario” for the popular administration.

“Ang sinasabi namin nang magkaroon ng UNA candidates ay ang mabigyan ang mga kababayan natin ng opportunity para makapamili pa ng mga qualified and willing to work in government (What we are presenting to the electorate are candidates who are qualified and who are willing to work in government),” Binay said.

Asked whether a conflict of interest would arise from a merger with the LP, the Vice President replied that there would be none, since the kind of opposition that the UNA represents differs from the common and negative perception of the term in the country.

Binay declared that UNA is not like the traditional opposition that engages in dirty tactics and damaging criticisms.

UNA can be compared to “Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition,” in the United Kingdom, he said, which engages in constructive criticism.

The Britain’s Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is the official opposition in the United Kingdom, and other countries such as Canada and Australia.

Binay will be back Wednesday in Manila in time for the national executive committee meeting of UNA on Thursday.

UNA leaders are expected to address issues hounding the coalition including the refusal of Pimentel to run with Zubiri.

Pimentel, the president of PDP-Laban, had opposed Zubiri’s inclusion in the lineup on his belief that the former senator was the beneficiary of the electoral fraud allegedly committed by the Arroyo administration in 2007.

For his part, former President Estrada yesterday expressed willingness to sit down with President Aquino’s LP to talk about a possible alliance.

Seeing a promise in the “super coalition,” Estrada supported a proposal for UNA to forge a coalition with the ruling party LP “for the greater interest of the people.”

“UNA executive committee is willing to sit down with LP leadership to thresh out plans on super coalition,” Estrada said.

The former leader noted that UNA is a formidable coalition willing to sacrifice for the people, and to save the country from economic crisis.

He explained that they are willing to work closely with the administration to save the Philippine economy, which nose-dived during the nine-year Arroyo administration.

Estrada supported the proposal of his son JV Ejercito – for a super coalition since there is no “real opposition” to oppose the ruling party.

On the other hand, the prospect of a grand coalition between the LP and UNA grew dim after Malacañang yesterday highlighted some “practical and philosophical” differences between the two parties.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the ruling party went ahead with its planned coalition with the two other political parties after UNA adopted an “exclusionary policy” since it was formed.

“The practical consideration is this, you must remember early on UNA already said that there will be no other coalition except PMP (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino) and PNP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), I think they have decided to say kami lang and no one else. They have adopted an exclusionary policy in the beginning and therefore because of that the LP decided to forge ahead with its own coalition,” Lacierda said in a Palace press conference.

The “philosophical” reason that keeps the administration from coalescing with UNA, on the other hand, was that the coalition, formed by Binay and Estrada, has certain members who oppose the President’s policies and programs, according to Lacierda.

“You’ve got fundamental policy differences. A coalition would not likely be plausible,” the Palace official added.

Lacierda emphasized that these practical and philosophical considerations must still be “looked into” before forging a partnership with UNA.

Lacierda made the remarks after Binay declared that UNA is open to forging an alliance with the administration party. The Vice President reportedly claimed that it would be political suicide if UNA does not entertain such option.

Lacierda, however, questioned the motive of UNA for its sudden change of stance.

“We would like to ask them why there is a sudden openness to their party when previously they have already mentioned we don’t need any other political groups other than three groups,” he said.

He said UNA’s supposed openness to a coalition with the administration party was “beyond the issue because LP has already forged ahead with their coalition.” “I really don’t know how they will work at it,” he added.

The administration party is expected to finalize soon its alliance with Villar’s NP, and businessman Cojuangco’s NPC to form a common senatorial slate for the 2013 elections.

Presidential Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang earlier said the ruling party is ready to coalesce with other political parties as long as they subscribed to the President’s reforms against corruption and poverty. —with reports from JC Bello Ruiz, Rio Rose Ribaya, and Genalyn D. Kabiling

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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