Noynoy may need to form new political alliances

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The opposition will likely lead both houses of Congress under a Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III presidency unless he manages to form new alliances with his power over pork barrel allocations, according to lawmakers.

Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., the defeated presidential candidate, is certain to get back his post as Senate president, and President-turned-Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will possibly become Speaker of the House of Representatives, according to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Santiago said in an interview over dzBB radio Sunday that Villar had the “numbers” to regain the Senate presidency, while Ms Arroyo, being a shrewd leader, may just clinch the House leadership.

But she said that Ms Arroyo could only be the next Speaker if her alliances would hold.

“You know politics. Even if they (Arroyo’s allies) belong to parties against Aquino, the minute he is proclaimed as president, they would change parties because you get so many benefits under a sitting president,” Santiago said.

Ms Arroyo last week retook the chairmanship of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party and her advisers said the party was determined in fielding her for the House speakership.

Santiago said she had recently spoken to Villar and he “seemed interested” in taking back the Senate leadership occupied by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

She said over 10 senators who would likely vote for Villar, including, those like herself, were Pia Cayetano and Ramon Revilla Jr. who ran under Villar’s Nacionalista Party, and supporters Lito Lapid, Alan Peter Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Joker Arroyo and Gregorio Honasan.

No happy days ahead

Santiago said that with the opposition in control in Congress, Aquino would have a hard time pushing his legislative agenda. She added that those close to Aquino also would have difficulty committing graft and corruption.

“I myself am not raising any doubt on his honesty and integrity, but I do entertain very serious doubts about the honesty of some people (around Aquino),” she said, adding it was wrong to think that “happy days are here again.”

“Oh no, that cannot happen because Congress would be watching them,” she said.

Santiago said it would soon be known if these people were really sincere “in putting President Aquino as the embodiment of the ideals represented by his father and mother.”

Apparently speaking about former Cabinet officials who left Ms Arroyo during the “Hello Garci” scandal of 2005, Santiago also said these people around Aquino sought Ms Arroyo’s resignation because they could not get what they wanted from her.

“If they left President Arroyo, we will know if they also would leave President Aquino if they realize that they will not get what they want from him,” she said.

“I’m very sorry to give them the bad news: Guys, you are not going to get rich this time,” Santiago said.

Arroyo asked to unify party

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that a core base of supporters of Ms Arroyo, who won a seat in the second district of Pampanga, had sent a manifesto to be signed by members asking her to unify the party and make a bid for the speakership.

“We believe that only the President can unite the party,” Suarez said. “Although she has not declared whether she wants to run for Speaker or not, we are confident that if we can promise to give her the winners to win, she will go for it.”

With 109 members in the House and about a dozen more likely to be added after the winners of the party-list votes have been proclaimed, Suarez said the Lakas-Kampi-CMD coalition could remain dominant with an ability to impeach the President to counter the Chief Executive’s power over pork barrel releases.

Everything is fluid

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., however, felt that the majority of the House members were not inclined to be “confrontational” in the 15th Congress, considering that they have their constituents to consider for their pork barrel allocations.

“We are keeping our options open. Everything is fluid right now, what is important is that the party will stick together because we are stronger if we work as one party rather individuals,” Barzaga said.

Based on initial estimates, the Liberal Party, which has declared incoming Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as its candidate for Speaker, has a core base of 44 members in the House with the Nationalist People’s Coalition getting 30 and the Nacionalista Party with 23.

But Florencio “Butch” Abad, a top Liberal Party official, declared that the battle for speakership was virtually over with Belmonte securing the votes (roughly 140) needed to install him as Speaker.

“We believe that members of other parties have realized that it was better to coalesce with us than to be with the opposition,” Abad said.

“It’s too early to say how the leadership issues will be resolved in both houses,” said LP Sen. Francis Pangilinan. “Congress doesn’t convene until the third week of July. A lot can and will happen between now and then.”

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

joel sumadic


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