Angie M. Rosales
The Daily Tribune
July 3, 2010
Pangilinan is seen to be pitted against former close friend and one-time political ally, defeated presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., in the race for the Senate presidency when Congress opens in some three weeks.
Aquino, according to party president and defeated vice presidential bet Manuel Roxas II, had committed not to intervene in the affairs of the Senate, that of luring other senators as to who they should vote for.
His participation on the matter was only limited in the so-called
consensus-building process, Roxas said in a press conference called by LP.
“As titular head, President Aquino was a part of the process and I would like to emphasize, however, that his being a party to this process, to this consensus-building process is only because he is a member of the LP and will be limited to that. President Aquino says that he will respect the independence of the Senate as well as the process of the Senate and the senators in choosing their leader,” he said.
This will leave Pangilinan all by himself in convincing at least nine other non-LP colleagues in the Senate to ensure him of the seat over Villar.
Luring Villar allies to his side is not among his planned steps within the next couple of weeks to seal the needed numbers, according to Pangilinan, as Villar’s people in the Nacionalista Party (NP) pronounced move is to field him as their candidate.
“The LP only has four members in the Senate. We will have to seek alliances, but we cannot start this unless we first agree within our party,” he said in the LP press conference.
“Thirteen is the magic number. We might be able to draw from 10. Once we secured the 10, it would be easy to get the three others,” Pangilinan added.
He refrained from naming names, although reports said he already secured the commitment of 10 of his colleagues, saying in jest that his rival might be able to win over them.
“It could be a two-corner fight but I’m hoping that it would just be a one corner fight,” he said, dismissing the possibility of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile entering into the picture due to the latter’s previous pronouncements that he will rally behind the candidate of LP.
“The Senate president has said publicly that he’s willing to support whoever is the candidate of LP. Now that they named me as their candidate, I will talk to him again. I don’t think Enrile is the kind of person who go will back on what he earlier said,” Pangilinan stressed.
Roxas, in formally introducing Pangilinan as their candidate for the Senate presidency, said they held a month-long yet smooth consensus-building process within the party.
“There was a fundamental agreement between Pangilinan and Drilon that whoever among them was chosen by the party, they will stick it out with each other,” he said.
He also noted that the two other LP members, Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Ralph Recto, were part of the consensus-building process, and agreed to this principle.
Drilon, for his part, said it was not difficult for them to decide on this matter, despite him being a more veteran member of the upper chamber and being Senate president in at least two instances in the past.
“More than the Senate presidency or any position, we in the LP believe what is most important is to be able to push and support the programs of President Aquino. That is what is important. Everything else becomes secondary,” he said.
Pangilinan, months before the just-concluded national elections, had been more identified with Villar, having associated himself with the latter in the group they called “Wednesday bloc” that included former Vice President Noli de Castro, Senators Recto and Joker Arroyo.
He practically severed his ties with Villar when he opted to support Aquino’s bid for the presidency sometime in October last year.
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