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MANILA, Philippines -- The administration coalition said Tuesday it is “almost done” putting together a full Senate slate for the 2013 midterm elections.
However, Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya, secretary general of the Liberal Party, to which President Benigno Aquino III belongs, admitted that only three of the 15 or 16 prospective candidates are party members: Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon and his son Ruffy, the Customs commissioner, either of who will be chosen to run.
The coalition is composed of the LP, the Nacionalist Party led by Senator Manuel Villar, and the Nacionalist People’s Coalition founded by businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., who is Aquino’s uncle.
Abaya added that “close to half” of those in the line-up are being “convinced or required to join” the LP to increase the number of party members in the slate.
Former senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. had earlier expressed his desire to join the LP, but Abaya said he has yet to take his oath.
Also expected to announce his candidacy and entry into the LP is Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, cousin of the President.
Another former senator, Jamby Madrigal, is also being eyed for the tentative slate of the coalition, Abaya said.
However, he refused to name the whole slate when asked.
In separate interviews, LP members urged the party leadership to intensify efforts to field members in next year’s elections to ensure sufficient representation in the Senate.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone said the LP should have at least six candidates in the coalition ticket.
“We prefer inherent LP members to be in the slate. Since we are the biggest bloc in the political spectrum, we should have a bigger representation in the Senate slate,” Evardone said.
He said Cabinet members who are party members may also be tapped.
Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon, a former senator, said he is open to seeking another term in the Senate if the party decides.
“If the party asks me to run so that there would be sufficient representation in the Senate, I will. If not, the other option is a re-election,” he said.
“The party should think how it will have more LP members in the Senate because we know it is more difficult to herd the Senate toward a party line,” he added.
However, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II admitted that the LP has a “shallow bench” for the senatorial elections.
“It can easily field 12 candidates, but to field winnable candidates is another story because, as much as you want to fill your slate, it has to be a slate with a fighting chance,” he said.
“This is an election of the members of the Senate (and) of course, the party in power would like to have as many allies as we can in the 16th Congress,” he added.
Abaya said members of the coalition remain in talks over the elections, particularly at the local level, with such issues as equity of the incumbent and free zones being discussed.
“Even when you’re in a coalition, if one candidate wants to run, he will run. But we hope that this will just be just a minority case, (the) exception rather than the rule,” Abaya said.