MANILA, Philippines - Senators Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes were in Malacañang on Tuesday afternoon to meet with President Benigno Aquino III.
Asked what the agenda was in the President's meeting with the senators, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said it was to push for the postponement of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) "and other legislation."
Carandang said the discussions were "mostly ARMM."
Only Aquino's lunchtime meeting with 4 Liberal Party senators was publicized in the President's schedule.
There, over lunch, Aquino asked for the support of his partymates in the Senate to push for the passage of a bill postponing the ARMM elections and synchronize it with the 2013 polls.
In an earlier briefing with reporters, Carandang said the President may also meet with other senators "in the next few days" to seek support for the Palace-backed measure.
He said said Aquino is also open to meet with Senator Bongbong Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government that has been deliberating on the measure.
"If it's necessary to reach out to Senator Marcos, I think he will. Pero ang unang kakausap siguro sa kanya ay ang mga kaalyado natin sa Senado," Carandang said.
He added that the President's allies in the Senate will also help convince other senators to vote for "this very important measure."
"We heard na may mga senators na ayaw. But our point here is to get a majority. And we are trying very hard to get a majority," he said.
The President earlier told reporters that he will personally convince the senators to vote for the postponement of the ARMM elections, which are now only 3 months away.
"We are exerting all the efforts. The House has already passed the measure. Sa Senate, we would have to ask to expedite the measure. We did certify this as I think the first of five priority measures," Aquino said.
He said synchronizing the ARMM elections with the 2013 polls will prevent command voting in the region paving the way for development.
"Dito 'pag sabay sabay ang election kanya-kanyang kampanya, wala nang nagco-command ng sinuman, mas malaya yung botohan, mas representative yung mananalo sa kagustuhan ng taumbayan. Mas may mangyayari sa ARMM," he said.
Senators from the Liberal Party who were present in the lunch meeting were Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, and TG Guingona.
Palace chief troubleshooter Mar Roxas was seated beside the President. Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Carandang, presidential peace adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, and Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad were also present.