Common ticket eyed for Opposition candidates

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — ALL incumbent senators seeking re-election in May will most likely run under a common ticket, an official said yesterday.

“The coalition is a go. We will come together,” Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan said, referring to an alliance between the Nacionalista Party led by Senate President Manuel Villar and the Liberal Party wing led by Senator Franklin Drilon.

Senators Ralph Recto and Joker Arroyo would also be part of the coalition ticket, he said.

Even Senators Edgardo Angara and Panfilo Lacson, who have openly clashed, had agreed in principle to join the coalition, Pangilinan added.

“We are now reconciling certain issues,” he said.

He also said the coalition would include Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of Nacionalista and Rep. Benigno Aquino III of Liberal, two lawmakers who are also on the list of the United Opposition led by deposed President Joseph Estrada.

Opposition has announced its own list of eight candidates.

Cayetano and Aquino aside, the list includes former Senators Loren Legarda and John Osmeña, Lacson, Rep. Francis Escudero, San Juan Mayor Joseph Victor Ejercito, and lawyer Aquilino Pimentel III.

Although Pangilinan insisted that the so-called Wednesday Club would run with the coalition of incumbent senators, Lacson said the group’s four members—Villar, Pangilinan, Recto and Arroyo—would be invited to join the Opposition instead.

“I can bet that the four remaining slots [in the Opposition ticket] would be for Villar, Pangilinan, Recto and Arroyo based on my talks with my colleagues in the opposition,” Lacson said.

Villar would not confirm Lacson’s statement that the four slots in the Opposition ticket were reserved for the Wednesday Group.

“I can only say that we are seeking alliances with other groups and nothing is final until the deadline for the filing of the certificates of candidacy,” Villar said.

Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson said he was committed to running for the Senate after obtaining the support of the League of Provinces.

He also rejected opposition claims that an endorsement from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would not help him because of her low approval rating.

“I think it will be of great help,” he told a radio interview.

At the same time, he said he did not believe loyal administration allies would be sacrificed in favor of defectors from the opposition camp like former Senators Vicente Sotto III and Teresita Aquino Oreta.

Also yesterday, an umbrella group called Katipunan Pinoy said it wanted socialite Cory Quirino, a granddaughter of former President Elpidio Quirino, to run for senator.