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MANILA, Philippines -- The Liberal Party said Tuesday said it will field a full slate in next year’s senatorial elections.
But by all indications, this “LP slate” will have only one or two party members.
Most of the candidates will come from parties in coalition with the administration, as well as Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who has chosen to run under the administration although he belongs to the PDP-Laban, which has linked with the Partido ng Masang Pilipino in the United Nationalist Alliance.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said the LP will announce its slate within the week.
"We will announce it in due time which is sometime this week. The President is in talks with various members of the slate and it’s near final," Roxas, who is LP president, said.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, an LP member who sits at meetings with the Nacionalista Party and Nationalist People’s Coalition, which are in the administration coalition, confirmed that talks are ongoing to finalize the list of senatorial candidates before October 1, when certificates of candidacy are supposed to be filed.
He also confirmed that they are still waiting for Senator Loren Legarda, an NPC member, to decide whether to run with the administration or with UNA.
“What is clear as far as LP is concerned is that the decision of Loren is between her and her party,” Gonzales said at a news conference. “We will wait for their decision, if she will align with UNA, then we will still be fielding a full slate.”
Valenzuela Representative Rex Gatchalian, NPC spokesman, said Legarda is in constant consultation with the party, but stressed she is free to choose to run under the administration or UNA.
UNA has announced that it is adopting Legarda, who topped a recent survey by Pulse Asia.
Gonzales said the LP’s tentative slate, which still includes Legarda, includes Pimentel, prospective LP members Ramon Magsaysay Jr., a former senator, and former television host Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, cousin of the President; Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV and former Representative Cynthia Villar of the NP; former Representative Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan; Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino; Movie Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares; former Senator Jamby Madrigal; and Senator Francis Escudero, who is an independent.
However, Poe-Llamanzares said in a tweet that she is still “unsure” about running for senator.
LP stalwart Quezon Representative Lorenzon “Erin” Tanada III, whose name was not mentioned, has yet to announce if he will pursue senatorial plans, while another party member, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon has decided to remain at his pot.
Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, who was also being touted as an administration candidate, will also not be running.
Roxas declined to respond to observations that the LP slate is bereft of party members.
"If I respond it will set off another round of speculations so maybe it’s best that I don’t respond," he said.
Roxas also said that Trillanes would remain in the slate because “we have a coalition agreement with the Nacionalista Party and he is one of those that the Nacionalista Party has included in their list of candidates."
Trillanes has been in the middle of controversy after revelations that he had been acting as a “backdoor negotiator” of the government in efforts to find a solution to recent tensions over disputed territory in the South China Sea and for publicly criticizing Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
Asked if Trillanes was still an asset to the coalition despite the controversy, Roxas replied: "If he was in our slate then we would certainly campaign for him."
Pressed for a more categorical answer, Roxas said: "I think Senator Trillanes’ record speaks for itself and the people will judge him over the last six years."
"I think what the slate will represent is the advancement of the President’s agenda and those who have committed to his program of government," he added.