Aquino urged: Include ex-Arroyo allies in coalition

A LEADER of the House of Representatives urged President Benigno Aquino III to include the political party formed by former allies of Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the coalition for the 2013 midterm elections.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmotne Jr. said Aquino should also consider the National Unity Party (NUP) in the ruling Liberal Party's (LP) coalition with other prominent political parties.

"I am calling for the inclusion of NUP headed by Congressmen (Rodolfo) Antonino (of Nueva Ecija) and (Elpidio) Barzaga (of Dasmariñas City) in the coalition of the ruling Liberal Party with other prominent political parties," Belmonte said.

The NUP was formed months after the 2010 elections with former Arroyo allies at its members. The group headed by Deputy Speaker and Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia includes former members of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.

Belmonte's suggestion came after Aquino himself announced the "very successful" talks of the LP with the Nacionalista Party (NP) of Senator Manny Villar and the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) of business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco.

"This is a welcome development and a sign that the present government is doing great, both politically and economically," Belmonte, vice chairman of the LP, said.

The LP will reportedly include in its senatorial slate Customs Commissioner Rodolfo Biazon, Aurora Representative Sonny Angara, former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director-General Joel Villanueva, former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino Pimentel III, and Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, the President's cousin.

Meanwhile, NP executive committee member and Cebu Representative Eduardo Gullas said the emerging coalition between the LP and NP is perfectly legitimate.

"It makes a lot of sense for the two parties to be aligned ahead of the mid-term elections. Looking way back, the LP used to be the 'liberal wing' of the NP," Gullas said in a statement.

The late President Manuel Roxas, grandfather of LP president and Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II, ran for the country’s highest post as candidate of the NP's "liberal wing" in the 1946 national elections, before he eventually bolted the NP to establish the LP, Gullas pointed out.

The combined forces of the two parties, together with the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), would be formidable, according to Gullas, who heads the Alayon Party, the NP's Cebu chapter.

Gullas, former Cebu provincial governor, said the NP is seeking four slots in the budding LP-NP-NPC coalition's unified senatorial ticket.

"We confirm that the NP is asking for four slots, with the first two going to Las Piñas City Representative Cynthia Villar and reelectionist Senator Alan Peter Cayetano," he said.

"The NP has not reached a decision as to who will be entitled to the party’s two other slots in the joint senatorial lineup," he added.

Gullas said the forthcoming polls would be "a good fight" between the LP NP-NPC coalition and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

A coalition between former President Joseph Estrada's Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and Vice President Jejomar Binay's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), UNA is also set to field a common senatorial slate. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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