Cris G. Odronia Reporter and Efren L. Danao
The Manila Times
July 3, 2010
The Liberal Party (LP) of President Benigno Aquino 3rd is fielding Sen. Francis Pangilinan as its official candidate for the Senate presidency in the next Congress, the party president and Sen. Manuel Roxas 2nd announced on Friday.
“As result of a month-long, smooth consensus-building process, it is the distinct honor and privilege of the Liberal Party to announce that we will be fielding as a candidate for the Senate presidency Sen. Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan,” Roxas, the running mate of Aquino in the recently concluded May 10 elections, told a press conference at the Balay Expo in Cubao, Quezon City.
“This consensus-building process occurred over the period of a month, which began with a fundamental agreement as between [Pangilinan] and Sen. [Franklin] Drilon na kahit sino pa ang mapili ng partido, walang iwanan silang dalawa [that both will stand by each other whoever is chosen by the party],” he said.
According to the LP president, President Aquino was a part of the consensus-building process but only as a member of the party, not as the new leader of the country.
“President Aquino stressed that he will respect the independence of the Senate as well as the process of the Senate and the senators in choosing its leadership,” Roxas said.
Bickering set aside
Drilon said that it was not difficult for him to concede to Pangilinan because their main goal is to push and to support the programs of Mr. Aquino, who took his oath of office as the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines on Wednesday.
“We believe that, with so many problems that we are facing, and with so many challenges that [the] President would have to address, we do not want to come into bickering over who will be the Senate president in so far as the Liberal Party is involved,” he added.
“It was in that frame that we arrived at a consensus that the party leadership, our principal purpose is to help [Mr. Aquino] in his legislative agenda,” said Drilon, who served as Senate president during the terms of former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo.
Pangilinan thanked LP members for their trust and confidence. “We assure our party members and officials that we will not let the party down, and we will not let the President down,” he said.
The Liberal Party has only four members in the incoming Fifteenth Congress—Pangilinan, Drilon, Ralph Recto and Teofisto Guingona 3rd. A candidate for the Senate presidency needs at least 13 votes to secure the top post.
Sergio Osmeña 3rd ran under the LP ticket in the recent elections and is expected to vote for Pangilinan.
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile said that his group would support the LP nominee. He named Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Vicente Sotto 3rd and Gregorio Honasan as members of his group.
Pangilinan said that he is yet to talk to the senators who are not LP members for them to vote for him. Besides the four LP senators, he added that he is hoping to get the votes of the three to four more “natural allies” of the party.
“Pag nakakuha na kami ng 10, palagay ko yung tatlo mas madali nang mangyari [If we get 10 votes, I think it would be easy to get the three other votes],” Pangilinan said.
The formal selection of Pangilinan as candidate of the Liberal Party for Senate president has given him a firmer hand in courting the votes of other senators.
Sen. Edgardo Angara had said that his group of seven senators would not make any decision until the LP had chosen who between Pangilinan and Drilon would be its nominee. Their other choice is Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party.
Angara also included Sotto and Honasan in his group.
Drilon and Pangilinan had been holding separate talks with senators before Pangilinan’s selection as the party candidate for Senate president.
“Even if [Drilon] and I will reach a compromise, if neither of us can get the needed 13 votes, then that agreement is written on water,” Pangilinan said.
Enrile said that he was elected as Senate president during the Fourteenth Congress and since that Congress ended on June 30, he automatically ceased to be the Senate head.
The current secretary of the Senate, lawyer Emma Reyes, will preside on July 26 when the Senate formally elects the new Senate president and other officers of the chamber.
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