MANILA - President Aquino has met with Senator Manny Villar to forge the coalition between the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and Nacionalista Party (NP).
Budget Secretary and LP official Butch Abad said the meeting was held last week before the President announced that the coalition talks between the two parties were “very, very successful.”
“There has been a meeting between the President and Senator Villar where the agreement in principle to coalesce was forged,” Abad told reporters.
The next step would now be for a group of two or three officials from the LP and the NP to meet and discuss the operational details, including the slate for the 2013 senatorial elections and details on local coalitions. Coalition talks would resume next week, he said.
Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas was one of the “intermediaries” who made the meeting possible.
“There were some intermediaries who brought the idea to the President that the Nacionalista Party was interested in forging a coalition,” Abad said.
Abad conceded that the LP could not fill up a full senatorial slate hence the coalition.
“That we concede, that we cannot fill up a full slate. At the end of the process of vetting candidates, we may have 4 or 5 legitimate Liberal Party members in the slate and so given that reality, it’s natural for any political party to try to put together a coalition of the political parties and individuals with like minds to be able to pursue its program of government,” he said.
MOVING ON FROM THE CAMPAIGN HEAT
Abad said Aquino and Villar also took up the heated allegations thrown against each other during the 2010 elections when Liberal Party officials and Aquino’s campaign leaders had even given Villar the nickname “Villarroyo” to indicate their suspicions that Villar was then President Arroyo’s “secret candidate.”
Abad said both the President and Villar have agreed to move on, with the President also stressing the need to form an “enduring” partnership.
“Those issues, not in great detail, were taken up. The President was very frank in saying that if we are to come together in a partnership, it has to be an enduring one based on shared values… If there had been differences in the past, both the President and Senator Villar said that those are the past and therefore we need to look at this partnership moving forward,” Abad said.
Abad said that the coalition would show that the Nacionalista Party “adheres” to the President’s reform agenda.
“That will be tested in the future if there are events or incidents in the future that will crop up. But I think it’s healthy for parties to come together on the basis of more strategic basis and the President has been emphatic about that. Parang ang pagsasamahan natin ditio, hindi lang dahil sa eleksyon, kundi dahil meron tayong pinaniniwalaan pa rin pareho.”
GETTING THE NUMBERS
Abad justified the need to coalesce with the Nacionalista Party, pointing out the need to get the numbers in Congress to pass the administration’s reform measures.
“If you go the House and the Senate, what is important is you get your measures passed, your budget passed. At the end of the day, it’s really also about getting the numbers together to pass those measures. That’s why without necessarily compromising on the reform agenda, the President wants to be able to harness as much of the majority of the legislators and senators to be able to pass the President’s legislative agenda,” he said.
C-5 DOUBLE INSERTION
The party considers as a closed issue the allegations during the campaign the Villar had benefitted from a C-5 road project.
“That process has come to its closure and so we take it that the Senate has put a closure on that issue. So para sa amin, tapos na ‘yun and he has already been held accountable for that. Ayaw na naming ungkatin ‘yun because as we said nangyari na ‘yun,” he said.
Asked if the administration is also inclined to forget the allegations, Abad said those interested can still pursue the issue in the “appropriate venues.”
“Not just a question of forgetting. There are appropriate venues for whatever grievance s that public wants to address. If they wanna pursue those, that’s really the right of the public,” he said.
Abad hopes that the coalition will last beyond the 2013 elections.
“That is really more of a wish because as I said, four years is a long time in politics,” Abad said.
“If the relationship is programmatic, it’s based on a common set of principles, then it has a likelier chance of succeeding than if it just based on very tactical considerations like winning positions in 2013 alone.”