MANILA, Philippines - After months of courtship, presidential candidate Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP) succeeded in getting the support of the leftist group Makabayan.
Senatorial aspirants Bayan Muna Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza on Monday officially joined the NP senatorial ticket as "guest candidates."
Ocampo and Maza bring with them the support of the eight party-list groups under Makabayan--Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan, Katribu, Migrante, Courage, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.
"Matagal pinag-usapan ang pagsasamang ito. Di naging madali sa magkabilang panig dahil alam kong ito ay kauna-unahang pagkakataon. Nagsimula sa maraming pagkakaiba, sa pagwawakas konti lang pala pagkakaiba," Villar said at a press conference in Quezon City.
"I am extremely happy with this partnership," he added.
It is the first time that the leftist alliance is officially supporting presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
"Ganun kalaki ang pagtingin namin sa mga kandidatong ito," said Ocampo's colleague in Bayan Muna, Rep. Teodoro Casiño.
Backs NP platform
"Amin pong kinausap lahat ng seryosong deklaradong kandidato ng oposisyon.... Sinuri namin ang kanilang plataporma. Ang lupon ng NP ang pinakaangkop na plataporma na dapat madala [sa Malacañang]," said Ocampo.
Ocampo called the partnership a "mutual adoption" of platforms: Makabayan adopts the NP's platform while the NP adopts Makabayan's platform.
Villar said the NP's platform is similar to Makabayan's core beliefs--"pagmamahal sa bayan, pagmamahal sa mahirap, at pagmamahal sa kalikasan."
However, Ocampo said they are only supporting Villar and Legarda.
Whether or not they will support the other senatorial candidates of the NP will have to be further discussed, added Ocampo.
No to Bongbong
The son and namesake of martial law President Ferdinand Marcos is still on the NP senatorial slate as guest candidate.
Maza admitted that Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr.'s positions on human rights abuses during his father's administration and on the Marcos ill-gotten wealth cases make it difficult for them to support him.
"Maganda kung makuha ni Bongbong ang pagkakaton na ma-settle ito. It's a good opportunity to heal that past," said Maza.
Last week, the NP cut its ties with the Marcos party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (New Society Party). It is believed to be a concession to Makabayan, which did not want to be allied with the former dictator's party.
In a paper distributed during the press conference, Villar said "justice and indemnification will be provided to the victims of human rights abuses under the martial law regime as well as under succeeding governments."
Should Villar win, these will have to be prioritized under his administration, Ocampo said.
Legarda also vowed to push for reforms in the agricultural sector, a major advocacy of the leftist groups. -- (by Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)