2019 Senate race: ‘Weak’ opposition to unite with others as mutiny suspected in ruling party

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By Daniel llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent

Practically admitting that the 2019 senatorial slate formed by the ruling PDP-Laban of President Duterte is formidable, the opposition Liberal Party said it could not field its own candidates that would make as strong a ticket and so, is considering joining forces with other groups to form the “broadest opposition coalition” for next year’s mid-term elections.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, LP president, admitted that LP needs to merge forces with other groups to ensure a strong opposition in the coming poll exercise.

“We will help in putting together a resistance coalition. The LP alone cannot achieve this. We will need to work with other groups and forces willing to unite and to resist extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses, the undermining of our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea and the continuing rise of prices of basic commodities among others,” Pangilinan said.

With the re-electionist senators in the majority bloc forming their own coalition and the ruling PDP-Laban strengthening its force by recruiting non-party members as candidates in the coming 2019 elections, the ranks of the political opposition cannot be left behind.

By resistance coalition, Pangilinan was referring to “The Resistance” group which Sen. Bam Aquino unveiled earlier and described as a genuine opposition coalition slate for the coming 2019 mid-term elections.

“It will be made up of people willing to speak out and stand up against Malacañang’s policies that may be damaging to the people,” Aquino said.

Pangilinan said they’re hoping to bring together the broadest coalition of groups and individuals that will be united behind in defending freedom, civil and political rights. “We hope this coalition is one in ensuring our economic development is not sidelined by corruption and human rights violations,” he said.

Politicians earlier mentioned as possible part of an LP senatorial ticket denied interest, as it were. The supposed LP slate included former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Sen. Bam Aquino, former Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Ramon Magsaysay Jr., former Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, and former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada.

Completing the list were Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Reps. Jose Christopher Belmonte of Quezon City and Kaka Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands, and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

Magsaysay, Daza, Lagman and Belmonte said they had no intention of running for the Senate in 2019 under the LP banner.

As if to save face, Pangilinan came forward to disown the LP list. Pangilinan said the supposed LP senatorial slate for 2019 circulating on social media was not an “official party position.”

“That is not an official LP post. Perhaps there are people toying with the idea but that would be a personal view and is not an official party position,” the LP president said in a message to reporters.

Pangilinan reiterated that the LP “cannot do this alone and uniting with other groups and forces willing to coalesce to form the broadest opposition coalition is what needs to be done,” the Senator said.

On the part of the ruling PDP-Laban, trouble seemed to be brewing although its “strong” senatorial ticket has been all but drawn up. A mutiny is reported to be in the works to oust Majority Floor Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodlfo Farinas and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. It was Alvarez who practically hand-picked the PDP-Laban’s senatorial bets.

One lawmaker who asked not to be identified said some representatives from Mindanao were going around Northern Luzon to gather support for their plan to install former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo as House leader.

Fariñas is said to be replaced by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco.

He added that the ouster move would be announced to the media once their group has gathered enough support.

Another lawmaker said he was 100 percent certain that Alvarez and Fariñas will be removed from their posts considering that all congressmen in Northern Luzon are allied with the ruling political party.

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