MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party on Thursday said it will be strict on its members found to be secretly campaigning for members of rival coalitions, as the campaign season for the upcoming elections draws near.
"We will impose party discipline. We have nothing definite at this point but we will impose party discipline," said Senator Franklin Drilon when asked if the administration party will impose a loyalty check amid news that some members are secretly supporting candidates from rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Drilon is the campaign manager of the administration ticket, now known as "Team PNoy".
Drilon said the LP is prepared to discipline its ranks to make sure that each one of its members will support all Team PNoy candidates who come from various political parties aside from LP.
The LP-led coalition "Team PNoy" has fielded three "common candidates," or those affiliated with UNA. They are Sen. Francis Escudero, Sen. Loren Legarda and former MTRCB chair Grace Poe.
"Hindi naman kami batang nag-aagawan. Maliwanag naman na sila'y pinili ni Pangulong Noynoy and they are part of the team of the President," Drilon said.
"If they are part of the team of the President, that’s it. Sabi nga ng Presidente, 'Ito ang Team ko. Mag-ingat sa nakiki-angkas. Mag-ingat sa hindi tunay.'"
Drilon said the three common candidates will be present in Team PNoy's proclamation rally at Plaza Miranda in Manila on February 12, the start of the election campaign period.
UNA, meanwhile, will have its proclamation rally in Cebu.
LP stalwart and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier said that the three candidates "risk being distanced" from President Benigno Aquino III if they will join the campaign sorties of its rival coalition.
Abaya's statement drew criticism from UNA, which said the policy is "too harsh and unkind."
2013 polls a referendum
Trumpeting the economic gains under the Aquino administration, Drilon said the upcoming elections will also serve as a referendum on the president and his performance.
Drilon said the achievements of the administration should be reason for the people to vote 12-0 in favor of the ruling party's coalition.
"We are confident that we would be able to convince the people that Team PNoy is the right team to put in the Senate because they will be the one to push the reforms that the President has started and were finished before his term is over," he said.
"[We] will use the achievements of this administration to make a distinction between the administration candidates, the PNoy Team, and the opposition. The administration can be tested on what it has done in the past two years and a half and it is therefore on this basis that it is credible for the President to claim that we will do more, we will continue the reforms with the team that he has picked and supported."
Drilon said the president will be active in campaigning for his candidates.
The LP coalition has scheduled some 31 sorties between February 12 and the last week of March.