LP-NP-NPC marriage for political convenience headed for break-up
Even before the three political parties could vow to work together, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, and for richer but not for poorer at the polls, signs of a break-up appear to be erupting in the marriage for political convenience among the three parties — Liberal Party (LP), Nacionalista Party (NP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
One NP senator has raised questions on how the alliance could work together, and even campaign together, considering the divisive past in which they have engaged.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday hinted at the possibility of the looming coalition eventually heading for a divorce even before the campaign is over.
Add to this, the supposed pre-nuptial agreement proposed by LP, which seeks to deny the two parties four slots each in the 12-man senatorial lineup, is said to have triggered an internal strife among some of the ranks of NP.
The entry of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to NP as its newest member could likely end up having another potential senatorial bet of the party, current NP spokesman, former Surigao del Norte governor and congressman Robert Ace Barbers, eased out of the slate in favor of the former who is seeking re-election.
Counting the number of senatorial bets snatched by the LPs from two other parties, to include former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., the number of bets the LP-NP-NPC coalition today would be 16 for the claimed coalition.
Admittedly lacking in candidates from its own party, the LP is seen wanting to grab majority of the senatorial slots but is purportedly willing to provide the NP only three seats, sources said.
Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. and some NP stalwarts, reports said, are seeking four slots in the coalition’s unified senatorial ticket, the two seats supposedly already having been reserved for the senator’s wife, former Las Pinas Rep. Cynthia Villar and re-electionist Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Malacañang’s announcement made no mention of the inclusion of Barbers as one of its NP senatoral bets.
Marcos, besides the issue of seats allotted to NP, was more concerned over the fact that the LP does not have a stronghold of candidates in the grassroots level which is not a problem as far as his party is concerned.
“That’s why the NP as well as the NPC could very well provide them assistance on that aspect because we have leaders in the local governments.
Despite reports in the past on the possibility of an LP-NP alliance, the idea of Villar’s party aligning with the administration still came as a surprise to some, as in the case of Marcos although he admitted he had heard of it even while the impeachment proceedings of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was still ongoing.
“I think the reason they (LP) sought us out really is to enable them to fill up the ticket in the national level, that’s why there is this NPC-NP-LP talks for the coming elections,” he added.
It’s understandable for NP to be facing such difficulty considering the fact that President Aquino’s foray into the presidential race in 2010 was a belated decision which could have left the LP no time to organize its ranks in the grassroots level.
“But if they’re really out to fortify the alliance of the parties, it should not be concentrated only on the senatorial candidates or just mayors. There should be (common candidates) from below all the way up,” he said.
Experience in the past, under similar circumstances where political parties join forces, Marcos pointed out, the issue of observing the so-called “equity of the incumbent” would immediately apply.
But not in this case, he said, where the idea is that of a partnership as one political group.
“Now, there could be areas where it will be a free zone if (the parties) will not be able to iron things out (with their respective local candidates) and we will let our respective bets pursue their candidacy. What will become of us on the national level then? These issues need to be settled because it will all bring us back to the issue of the equity of the incumbent,” he said noting that based on the LP line up, the administration party’s senatorial bets could hardly be considered party mates and this would probably explains why the three parties have not made any announcement as to the details on its senatorial line-up.
Such would not pose a problem for the administration party had it managed to establish strong support in the grassroots level.
Marcos himself admitted that he’s wondering what tact the LP is planning in addressing the issue before their constituents to be able to convince the voters of the genuineness of their alliance with NP, given their past political squabble.
In a phone interview with the Tribune, Barbers tried to dismiss allegations of Trillanes getting ahead of the game over him in securing a seat in the LP-led coalition ticket saying he was aware of the eventual membership of the senator to NP.
He was, however, conspicuously absent when Trillanes was sworn in by Villar last Sunday in a function room in Shari-la Hotel in Makati City, as the event was witnessed by former Rep. Villar, Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Bongbong Marcos, Cavite Rep. Boying Remulla, Las Pinas Rep. Mark Villar and Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano.
Barbers said he was notified but only after the event took place.
Asked on the issue of allegedly being eased out of the LP slate, Barbers said “they probably feel Trillanes has better chance than me...I know how it works.”
Likewise, the NP official seconded the assertion made by Marcos, adding that from what he knows of the ongoing negotiations on the budding alliance with LP, the issue on line up in the local level is one of the most contentious issues still being resolved by now.
“If that will be the case, if it will not be resolved, the national candidates will not have a clear advantage (in the polls). We will not be able to say we have 100 percent sure win (without the support of the local candidates,” he said.
Barbers hastened to admit that some LP stalwarts do not see eye to eye with some local candidates currently aligned with NP as well as NPC although these are in what he called as “limited areas.”
Even in the lower house, a word war has erupted between an LP amd and a NPC congressmen.
The word war between House Deputy Speaker, Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada of the LP) and fellow pro-administration legislator NPC Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza of Batangas escalated a notch higher as Tañada criticized the latter for using “legal obstacles” for his inaction on a bill that seeks to create the trust fund which will be placed in the coconut- levy funds for the benefit of its farmer-contributors.
“I wish Rep. Mendoza had been as quick acting on my pleas to schedule the bill for public hearing as he was in passing the buck,” said Tañada in reply to Mendoza’s contention that he, as chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food, is not acting on House Bill 5070 until Coco Levy (Fund) cases are decided by the courts with finality.
“If he is really for the coconut farmers’ interests, then why refuse to even consider measures for their benefit? I was not asking him to pass the bill, I was asking for it to be heard. That power resides in him as committee chair and nowhere else. If the committee votes it down, I will not be heard blaming him. But neither should he blame the Supreme Court for his own inaction,” Tanada added.
On Mendoza’s claim that HB 5070 will become a bill of attainder if approved and will become unconstitutional, Tañada retorted: “How can HB 5070 be a bill of attainder? There is nothing in it legislating the fact that the coconut farmers are the owners of the coco levy. Instead of bandying legal terms around, maybe he could try looking at the bill first. It’s quite short—just four pages.”
Tañada asserted that the bill does not pre-empt the issue of ownership of the coconut levy, but simply creates a trust fund as the destination of any coco levy funds that may be awarded to the farmers.
“Does he mean that no trust fund for the coco levy can be created before ALL those cases are resolved? That is not unlike saying that he is never going to act on the bill,” Tañada said.
Mendoza earlier said it was unfair for Tañada to call his alleged inaction on House Bill 5070 “a disgrace.
“It is laudable for Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III to aspire for a trust fund benefiting the coconut farmers. We agree that there is a need to protect the interests of everyone in the coconut industry once all the Coco Levy [Fund] cases are decided by the courts with finality,” said Mendoza.
He said the Supreme Court had not yet issued its decision when Tañada filed HB 5070 in 2011.
As chairman of the House’s Committee on Agriculture and Food, Mendoza said he found it prudent to await the finality of the cases, meaning there would be no more appeals, before acting on HB 5070 and other House Bills of similar import.
“HB 5070 presumes that the issue—of who owns the 27-percent preferred SMC shares, is final and executory, when it is not. The controversy is still pending in court...What if Congress passes the subject measure and the Supreme Court reverses its decision? Congress will end up depriving one party of its property. Representative Tañada’s HB 5070 will become a bill of attainder. That is unconstitutional,” Mendoza said.
Tañada said that the whole point of filing HB 5070 was always not to wait for the resolution of all the Coco Levy cases. “Representative Mendoza would know that if he had given my bill the time of day,” Tañada said.