'PNoy's endorsement power affected by Mamasapano'

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2015 03:30 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2015 04:09 AM

MANILA - Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao believes the Mamasapano incident has affected President Benigno Aquino III's endorsement power in the 2016 elections.

''We have become a senior coalition partner of the Liberal Party. I'd like to add even in the aftermath of Mamasapano clash, our support is still very strong. I have to add this incident may have dented a little bit the possible influence of the president on who to support for the next elections,'' said Aggabao.

Aggabao belongs to the Nationalist People's Coalition, which belongs to a coalition led by the ruling Liberal Party.

''Before Mamasapano, our perception is whoever is chosen by the president will have a very distinct advantage. But with this, the perception may have (been affected)...a bit. Even the popularity of the president, if survey is conducted (now), I'd like to bet siguro it will dim a bit,'' Aggabao said.

LP member Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, meanwhile, does not think the Mamasapano incident has diminished President Aquino's endorsement power, noting that the president's anti-corruption platform will remain relevant in 2016.

"I hope this will die down soon before election time pero kung may lamat tingin ko pagdating ng eleksyon mawawala. Corruption pa rin number 1 issue sa 2016,'' Evardone said.

Aggabao also kept his distance from the calls for the president's resignation.

''We're not even talking about that. It's comedic. We thought, the solution calling for the president to step down is far worse than problem they are trying to remedy," Aggabao said.

"If we ask the president to step down, the immediate question is 'who would succeed him?' The vice president has constitutional mandate. Iyung calls for resignation na-cheapen na natin…anything that happens, people call for resignation.

''We have to be more circumspect. I think the Mamasapano incident, while very regrettable, should not be blamed on the president. Judging from what I've been hearing, the lapses were operational but the policy to go after Marwan was correct. If it was a wrong policy, kasalanan ni presidente. Any president worth his salt would do the same thing."

Evardone, on the other hand, dismissed talks of coup attempts against the president.

''Hindi nga namin pinag-uusapan. I simply refuse to comment on that issue. I don't want to dignify that issue. Malayo mangyari iyan. No confluence of events, no critical mass, and the military is very solid behind the commander-in-chief. At saka malapit na eleksyon eh, antayin na lang eleksyon kung sino ihahalal ng taongbayan," Evardone said.

''Certain groups, especially the opposition, are trying to take advantage and exploit the situation to diminish the power of the president to endorse."

President Aquino's administration has used its political capital to push for the passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law as a key to lasting peace in Mindanao

Aggabao said the BBL has captured the attention of non-Mindanao lawmakers due to the Mamasapano incident.

"With Mamasapano, all of a sudden BBL has acquired local phase. Even congressmen coming from north are very keen and are now very probaby would particpate more. We have not asked BBL be shelved during caucus,'' Aggabao said.

"As I've said earlier, we've always treated the BBL as far removed from my constituents but we lost 3 in Mamasapano. From Isabela all of a sudden, the BBL has acquired a local taste. Nagtatanong kamusta tayo, whereas before wala silang pakialam.

''Broadly as a matter of principle, I'm in favor of BBL. Our party is in favor of BBL. Before Mamasapano in broad strokes we favor autonomy, but the perimeter is something we haven't discussed."

Evardone meantime added, "Congress cannot be stampeded into approving BBL as drafted. We should exercise our plenary powers to amend, change any measure pending before Congress. it is unfair for someone who is supposed to be a partner in seeking peace in Mindanao to be treated in Congress. We should work hand in hand with acceptable viable constitutional legislative means. Frankly, we haven't discussed that as a party matter. It's a priority measure kahit naman si speaker nabasa ko statement ni Boyet 'di pwede hook line and sinker tatanggapin iyan there are ramifications that have to be addressed in light of what happened sa Mindanao."