[PHOTO -BEST SCENARIO FOR PRESIDENT AQUINO: San Juan Representative JV Ejercito says, "With no real opposition coming forward to challenge his administration in the 2013 midterm elections, should President Benigno Aquino assemble a senatorial ticket that shall run unopposed?"]

MANILA, JULY 21, 2012 (INQUIRER) ANALYSIS By: Amando Doronila - The proposal of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay and deposed President Joseph Estrada to forge a “super coalition” with the Liberal Party-led alliance to field a common powerhouse ticket in the 2013 Senate election has been shot down even before it could take off.

It ran into heavy flak from the ruling LP, which blasted the UNA plan as a scheme designed to preempt the initiative of forming the administration’s Senate slate ahead of the approval of President Aquino.

The controversy sparked by the UNA proposal exposed the cracks in the Aquino administration stemming from tensions between the camp identified with the President and that of Binay over policy issues and approaches to good governance.

These tensions have come to the surface as the government faces a confidence vote in the May 2013 mid-term election, with the results of the Senate election expected to reflect public approval or disapproval of the administration’s performance the past two years.

Apparently without being aware of it, UNA is treading on dangerous political ground when it proposed to partner with the LP-led alliance in fielding a common “super” Senate slate to sew up the election in favor of a ticket behind and handpicked by the President.

It is dangerous because, under the grand coalition scheme, UNA is making itself complicit in a plot that, in effect, seeks single-party domination of Congress, resurrecting the single-party domination by the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) of the one-chamber national assembly established by the martial-law dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos.

A close examination of UNA’s “super coalition” Senate ticket easily yields the intention of reviving the single-party apparatus favored by authoritarian regimes in “restored democracies” like ours after the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in the 1986 People Power Revolution.

When San Juan City Rep. JV Ejercito proposed the “super coalition,” he explained that forming a “super senatorial slate” between the LP-led coalition and UNA would be “the best scenario” for President Aquino, who has maintained his popularity since 2010.

“It will be ideal since there is no clear-cut line between the opposition and the administration.”

This statement might be correct, but it suggests that UNA does not intend to play the role of opposition under the Aquino regime but rather that of a junior coalition partner facilitating the rigging-up of the Senate election results to ensure the President’s control of Congress, with the House already under control of the LP-led coalition.

This type of partnership makes UNA a threat to legislative independence and, for this reason, it should be emphatically rejected.

UNA had the effrontery to offer the LP coalition (joined by the Nacionalista Party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition and the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino) a 7-5 or 8-4 ticket sharing, in the LP’s favor, relative to UNA’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino and Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

The LP-led coalition is not snapping at the offer; Ejercito admits UNA is “unwanted” by the LP coalition. The administration is not buying it.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, a senior LP leader, dismissed the proposed “super coalition,” pointing to “one condition that the President imposed on those seeking to run under the administration’s Senate slate: They can only stand on the administration stage.”

Abad explained that the party’s position in drawing up its senatorial slate would not allow it to adopt common candidates, a political arrangement which allows candidates to run in both administration and opposition slates.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda had earlier said the super coalition idea would not be possible because of “philosophical differences” with UNA.

He said there were fundamental differences being worked out among the LP, the NP and the NPC. “There are some members of their slate who are in continuous opposition to the policies of the Aquino administration,” he said.

It has been reported that the President has not been happy with the lukewarm support of Binay for the administration campaign to flush out corruption cases involving the preceding government.

The 2013 mid-term election touches a raw nerve in the uneasy relations between the President and Binay, exacerbated by opinion surveys showing Binay as the preferred endorser of candidates for office in the next election.

The super coalition proposal received a fresh rebuff from House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte when he said the ruling party was not “aggressively recruiting” new members in the House, but those who share its vision and commitment were welcome to join the majority coalition.

According to him, there are now 87 LP members out of 284 representatives, but “we are not trying to recruit anybody.” He added that “if they want to join and are compatible with us, then okay.”

The LP is one of the three parties in the House, together with the NP and NPC, which make up the nucleus of the majority coalition in the House.

The thrust of the LP is to rebuild itself as the dominant party in both houses, and this explains why the LP finds little use for super coalitions like the one mooted by UNA. LP chair Sen. Franklin Drilon reflects the drive of the LP to restore its former status as one of the main pillars of the pre-martial law two-party system (together with the NP) when he said that the ruling party would not admit “guest candidates” into its lineup.

These developments in rebuilding point to moves in the Aquino-Binay entente to marginalize Binay by the 2013 Senate election.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved