PHOTO - ADMINISTRATION COALITION SLATE President Aquino (sixth from left) proclaims the senatorial candidates of the administration coalition at a rally in Club Filipino, San Juan City. From left: Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Francis Escudero, Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Jamby Madrigal, Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, Sen. Loren Legarda, Rep. Cynthia Villar and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III. Seated at right are Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. LYN RILLON]

MANILA, OCTOBER 8, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Michael Lim Ubac, Leila B. Salaverria - Setting the tone for next year’s elections, President Benigno Aquino declared Monday that the administration coalition would echo his reform agenda during the campaign season.

As he presided over the official proclamation of the administration coalition’s senatorial ticket at Club Filipino in San Juan City, Mr. Aquino underscored the importance of having key allies in the Senate to ensure the passage of his legislative agenda for the remaining three years.

“Every three years, our nation faces a crossroad. The question is: Where are we headed? Do we continue to tread the path we have taken, or do we revert to the old way of doing things? Are we optimistic about the future, or would you prefer the previous condition?” he asked in a speech delivered in Filipino.

The coalition consists of the Liberal Party (LP), Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino and Akbayan party-list group.

The President took time to mention the credentials of each candidate, starting with Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, son of outgoing Sen. Edgardo Angara, followed by Mr. Aquino’s cousin, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, the youngest candidate on the administration slate.

Included in the slate were Senators Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Antonio Trillanes IV; former Senators Ramon Magsasay Jr. and Jamby Madrigal; former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros and former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, wife of outgoing Sen. Manuel Villar; and Grace Poe-Llamanzares, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.

Three of the administration candidates—Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares—have also been adopted as candidates of the rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

“This I assure you: The 12 candidates being offered by this coalition will help harvest the fruits of reforms we have laid down the last two years, three months and one day. They promise us that they will not steal. They will expedite the pace of change that we’re enjoying, and they will not betray your trust. You—the people—are the Boss,” Mr. Aquino said.


He explained the vote of his “bosses” come May 2013 would eventually decide whether the nation would “continue with the right” path he had set at the beginning of his term.

“The resounding message should be—the reform and change undertaken the past two years were right. We want to speed up change, and we’re now offering to you those who would help you achieve this,” the President said, referring to the slate.

Assuming the role of a conductor, he likened the nation to an “orchestra” that was expected by the audience to come up with a “harmonious sound instead of an out of tune soloist who thinks only of himself.”

Campaign line

Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, an LP stalwart, told reporters that the administration’s nationwide and grassroots’ campaign would carry the message, “Kapag walang corrupt, walang mahirap (There is no poverty if there is no corruption).”

“You may add economic growth and expansion because, I think, that’s where we’re at right now, and we want to go deeper into. We need to go faster in the legislation—tax reforms and social policies, freedom of information,” Abad said.

“You have to define yourself in relation to the administration. You have to have a clear message to the people. If you are the alternative, why are you the alternative? In the same manner that the President made it very emphatic why this administration wants to win this election,” Abad said.

‘Us vs them’

In his speech, Mr. Aquino reiterated the gains so far achieved by his two-year administration vis-à-vis the failures and inefficiencies of the Arroyo administration.

He said that just two years and three months into his six-year presidency, “we have not just carried the burdensome problems they had left, we even surpassed the challenges.”

Thus, he said, the sides taken by the two rival election coalitions were clearly delineated.

Apparently taking the first jab at UNA, he stated the obvious.

“The critics are with them; those willing to cooperate are with us. Isn’t it that the characters who are always critical of what we do every time they open their mouths are on their side?” he asked.

The President acknowledged the citizens who were willing to rally behind the achievement of his goals.

“Our belief is that we should keep an open mind because free speech brings forth clear solutions unlike others who are always critical of what we say. We can’t be in one boat where the crew would row backwards… while we are striving in earnest to move forward,” the President said.

He gave a noticeably longer introduction to both Llamanzares and Pimentel, but gamely teased Bam Aquino and Trillanes.

“Koko was given a six-year mandate, but was only given with more or less two years,” Mr. Aquino said, emphasizing that Pimentel was a duly-elected senator in 2007, and thus wisely rejected calls for him to run again in 2010 pending the outcome of his electoral protest.

Pimentel assumed office in 2011, after Juan Miguel Zubiri resigned.

The President thanked Llamanzares for choosing to run on the LP-led slate, after turning down many politicians who “courted her.”

Turning to Trillanes, Mr. Aquino described his back-channel negotiator in talks with China as an “example of a persistent and brave soldier.”

“In his (second) term, perhaps he would show to us what it means to be a senior senator,” the President said, triggering chuckles from the audience as the cameras panned to show Trillanes flashing a pained smile.

The President did recognize Bam Aquino as his cousin, but issued a warning: “If you lose your way, forget my mother and father; you will have to answer first to our grandmother. And when she’s done (with you), I will be next.”

LP officials earlier said the administration candidates may be adopted by other parties, but they do not want members to join the campaign sorties of the other groups because that would be akin to campaigning for their fellow candidates’ rivals.

Llamanzares said it was important that she respect the rules of the administration coalition because she works for the administration as an official of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

Escudero said he would campaign on his own but would work with the rules of both coalitions that adopted him. Asked if he would appear on stage with any of the two slates, he said had not talked about it with coalition officials.

Legarda said she wanted to bring her campaign directly to the people. As to whether she would join the sorties of the coalitions, she said those operational details could be worked out later.

Legarda also said it was the President himself who asked her to join the administration coalition after he invited her to Malacañang last week.

According to her, she told him she did not have to join the slate and did not want to ease anybody out of it, but he replied that he wanted her to join his line up and that a slot was reserved for her.

She said she would have continued supporting the President even if she was not made part of the administration coalition.



[PHOTO - President Benigno Aquino 3rd (sixth from left) and the Senate bets of the ruling Liberal Party hold and raise their hands during the line-up’s unveiling at Club Filipino in San Juan City on Monday. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN]

THE Liberal Party (LP) on Monday officially proclaimed its Senate slate for the 2013 elections but only three of the candidates belong to the ruling party—Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara of Aurora province, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th and former senator Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal.

Aquino and Madrigal took their party oath only last week.

The other candidates are former senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Senators Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th, former representative Cynthia Villar of Las Piñas City of the Nacionalista Party (NP), Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr. of PDP-Laban, former representative Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel of Akbayan Party-list, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares of the Movie, Television and Radio Classification Board and Sen. Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

“These are the people who know what is right and wrong, and will do what is right,” President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who is also the LP chairman, said during the party’s proclamation at Club Filipino in San Juan City.

“More than popularity, the LP-Akbayan-NPC-NP-LDP-NUP coalition senatorial slate is born of a shared set of principles. The slate represents those who have helped in the advancement of the President’s agenda and those who have committed to support his programs of government,” the LP said in a statement.

Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya of Cavite province, who serves as the LP secretary general, said that lines are clearly drawn for the members of the administration coalition, meaning that they should share the campaign stage with the LP as candidates that will push President Aquino’s reform agenda.

“We could not have exemptions in handling the 12. We will be fair to all. It will confuse the people if a bunch of 24 guys are saying the same thing but they are part of separate slates. There should be integrity and morale,” Abaya told reporters.

However, Escudero and Legarda, who were also named guest candidates of LP’s rival the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and frontrunner in surveys, have yet to decide if they will campaign exclusively under the LP banner. UNA is a coalition between Vice President Jejomar Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and former president Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

“We haven’t talked about that actually. The candidates are yet to have a meeting. I don’t know the schedule of the rallies. But whatever it is, I am confident that we will iron out our kinks,” Escudero told reporters.

Legarda disclosed that she only joined the LP because the President asked her to.

“I told the President that I was fine, it [LP slate] doesn’t need me, that he can give it to somebody who wants it. But the President said ‘I want you.’ Who am I to turn down the President who is on the right path? The details on the ground will resolve itself at the proper time. The campaign is straight to the people,” Legarda, who was present during the LP proclamation, said.

“My loyalty is to the people who entrust their future to me, which is the biggest responsibility I bear and I want to fulfill everyday. At the end of the day, I will be judged based on my track record, not so much on the political affiliation especially in a multiparty system like ours,” she added.

Llamanzares is also a guest candidate of UNA being the daughter of the late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., who was a close friend of Estrada.

Unlike Escudero and Legarda, Llamanzares gave her full commitment to the LP slate.

“They [UNA] understand that I work for the administration, so it is important that I respect the rules of the administration. I am in this coalition because I believe in the leadership of the President,” Llamanzares said.

The LP-led coalition dropped Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon, Director General Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada 3rd of Quezon province and chose Escudero, Legarda and Poe instead.

But the President, in his speech during the proclamation of administration candidates, acknowledged the three government officials and maintained that they are needed in their posts.

Mr. Aquino said that Biazon is doing well at the Bureau of Customs and he is needed to continue the reforms that have been instituted. The President also wants Villanueva to stay at Tesda and continue to provide education and skills training to the poor.

Tañada, on the other hand, decided to give way to other candidates.

The President praised the three officials for their sacrifice.

“Tumugon po sila sa aking pakiusap, matinding pakiusap, na isantabi muna ang buhay-pulitika, upang magpatuloy ang arangkada ng atin pong ekonomiya. Itong tatlo pong ito ay maliwanag na ehemplo po ng Pilipinong inuuna ang bayan, bago ang pansariling kapakanan [They agreed to my appeal that they turn their back to politics so that we can continue with the economic reforms.These three officials are examples of Filipinos who give priority to public service before their self-interests],” he said.


The President said that next year’s elections will be a test of character.

“Magiging usapin ng pagkatao ang paparating na halalan. Sino ang handang magsakripisyo? Sino ang handang manindigan [Character will be an issue in the coming elections. Who is prepared to make sacrifices? Who is ready to take a stand?]” Mr. Aquino said.

The President emphasized that the purpose of the LP-led alliance is to continue the reforms that he initiated.

“Maliwanag po ang mensahe ng alyansa natin: ituloy ang malawakang pagbabagong atin nang nasimulan. At ano naman kaya ang mensahe ng kabila? Sa totoo lang po, may ilan naman sa kabilang hanay ang kumampi sa amin sa importanteng mga isyu [Our coalition’s message is clear: continue the massive reforms that we have started. And what could be the message from the other side? In all honesty, a few of those in the rival group supported us in some important issues],” he said.

Mr. Aquino took a swipe at UNA, saying that most of its candidates did nothing but oppose the administration.

“Kung tama kami, puwede bang tama rin ang kontra sa amin? Kung doon sila panig, masasabi po ba nating may maliwanag silang pag-intindi sa tama at mali? At kung hindi naman maliwanag, saan naman po kaya tayo dadalhin ng kanilang pamumuno? [If we are in the right, is it possible that those who are against us are also right? If they take the other side, can we say that they have a clear understanding of what is wrong and right? Where would their leadership take us?] he added.


Sen. Franklin Drilon, who was designated as the campaign manager of the LP-NP-NPC coalition, said that they will not stop the other team from adopting some of their members but this situation would be difficult for the adopted candidates.

He was referring to the case of Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares.

“It is certainly quite problematic when the candidate they adopt would suddenly appear in their rallies because if they endorse the candidates on the other side; in effect, they’re junking the candidates in the coalition. So it is a difficult situation,” Drilon said in an interview.

Drilon admitted that his job as campaign manager will be difficult because of such situations. He said that the party has yet to discuss details of the campaign, which will start in February, but he hinted that it will not be a traditional one.

The senator said that mounting traditional rallies is too expensive and takes time to prepare.

“We will hold rallies in major cities. We will maximize our media exposure, especially in social media,” he added.

The NPC on the other hand believe that the inclusion of Legarda into the LP-NPC partnership will strengthen the relation of the two parties into helping their candidates to be successful in the coming elections.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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