Liberal, Nacionalista seal coalition deal

Posted on July 11, 2012

THE COALITION between the Liberal Party (LP) and Nacionalista Party (NP) -- rivals in the last elections -- has been approved in principle, a Cabinet official said yesterday.

“There has been a meeting between the President [Benigno S. C. Aquino III] and Senator [Manuel B.] Villar where the agreement in principle to coalesce was forged. So the next step is more operational,” Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad, a senior member of LP, said in a briefing at the Palace.

He said the two -- leaders of the country’s oldest political parties -- met last week with Cebu Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas who served as one of the “intermediaries.”

Talks with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), a party headed by businessman Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr., the President’s uncle, are scheduled next week, said Mr. Abad.

Mr. Aquino ran against Mr. Villar during the 2010 presidential elections. The two were engaged in heated allegations during the campaign, but Mr. Abad said both wanted to move on.

“After the election, everything is finished then you move forward and... you deal with what you have to deal with. In the case of the President, running the country; in the case of Senator Villar, once again, consolidating his party and looking forward to the next exercise,” Mr. Abad said.

The official admitted that LP could not fill the whole senatorial slate, hence, its coalition with NP.

“That we concede, that we cannot fill up a full slate. At the end of the process of vetting candidates, we may have four or five 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.

Mr. Abad added that the coalition will mean more allies in Congress who will support the administration’s reform agenda.

“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,” he added.

The looming LP-NP-NPC coalition is seen to counter the United Nationalist Alliance composed of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino led by former president Joseph E. Estrada and Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan of Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay. -- N. M. Gonzales