Angara joins GMA bandwagon

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Edgardo Angara yesterday confirmed he would run as an administration candidate in May, and attacked his critic in the opposition, Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his “record of betrayal and violence.”

“Today, I accept the invitation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to run under a unity ticket,” Angara said in a press briefing.

He added that two members of the Wednesday Group, Senators Ralph Recto and Joker Arroyo, would join him in the unity ticket, and that efforts to establish a “middle force” had collapsed.

Turning his attention to Lacson, who had criticized him for jumping ship, Angara said: “He abandoned his boss, President Erap [Joseph Estrada] and divided the opposition in 2004. Now he’s prancing around as if he’s the champion of the opposition. I think his record of betrayal and violence is enough to disqualify him.”

In the 2004 presidential election, Angara had supported Estrada’s friend, actor Fernando Poe Jr., but Lacson, who failed to get the nod as the opposition standard-bearer, ran as an independent, splitting the anti-administration vote.

Angara said he reached his decision after consulting with the leaders and members of his Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

He also said he had never negotiated with the United Opposition under Estrada to be included in its Senate ticket.

Senate President Manuel Villar, he said, would most likely join the Opposition slate, but it was uncertain what Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan would do.

Angara denied the notion that being part of the unity ticket was the “kiss of death,” saying the reverse was true in many parts of the country.

He said a unity ticket would have a better chance of pushing measures needed to move the country forward.

With the addition of Angara, Recto and Arroyo, the ruling coalition was now only three names short of a complete Senate ticket, Speaker Jose de Venecia said.

Others in the lineup are Reps. Prospero Pichay Jr. and Juan Miguel Zubiri, presidential chief-of-staff Michael Defensor, former Senators Vicente Sotto III and Tessie Aquino Oreta, and Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson.

“We are discussing the remaining three names,” he said, adding the inclusion of actor Richard Gomez, who has been closely associated with Estrada, was still being opposed.

Also yesterday, De Venecia’s wife Gina contradicted his earlier statement that she was not interested in politics.

She said she could still be persuaded to run for senator and that she would “pray for discernment.”

At the Commission on Elections, coup suspect and former Senator Gregorio Honasan filed his certificate of candidacy for senator. Escorted by heavily armed police from his detention cell in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Honasan said he wass running as an independent, but would welcome an endorsement from the administration.