Overthrowing GMA not a platform — Joker

PNS — SENATOR Joker Arroyo yesterday denounced the United Opposition for quietly condoning attempts to overthrow the government and challenged them to offer a concrete platform of governance and reforms.

Senator Arroyo, one of two members of the Senate’s Wednesday Group that joined the administration ticket, said he turned down an Opposition offer to run under its banner because its leaders never condemned attempts to grab power by force.

“We in the administration ticket are united not to overthrow the government, not to destabilize, and ensure that the Constitution is followed. We support the economic progress of the President,” Senator Arroyo said shortly before he filed his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections.

“We have yet to hear from the opposition as to what they really want. They do not want to follow the line of succession and they have not condemned the destabilizations and attempts to overthrow the government. All of us would be happy if we received an answer from the opposition,” he said.

In issuing his challenge to the Opposition ticket, Senator Arroyo also addressed his two colleagues in the Wednesday Group—Senate President Manuel Villar and Senator Francis Pangilinan, who were adopted by the opposition.

The administration’s “unity ticket” includes three opposition politicians—reelecitionist Edgardo Angara and former Senators Vicente Sotto III and Tessie Aquino Oreta.

Oreta said she had the blessings of deposed President Joseph Estrada to join the administration slate.

Sotto, who supported President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s rival in the 2004 presidential elections, said the late candidate and movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. would have wanted unity and supported his decision to join the administration.

“I would like to thank the political leaders of the coalition parties for their warm reception,” Sotto said. “I hope people will see through the dust and support Team Unity.”

Angara, who brokered Poe’s presidential bid, also said it was time for the nation to move forward and leave the past behind.

Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson was unable to attend the launch of Team Unity, but he filed his certificate of candidacy after being released from Asian Hospital.

“The doctors released him with a clean bill of health. The only hindrance is the healing of the wound from the operation. Other than that, he is more than fit to campaign,” Singson’s son Ronald said in a text message.

On the last day for filing certificates of candidacy, President Arroyo urged politicians and voters to unite and turn the election into an opportunity to move the country forward.

“The May elections are about the future, not the past. Elections should be about new ideas, not old complaints. The fighting should be for a stronger nation, not just about fighting,” she said.

Members of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats in the House were in a fighting mood, and described Senator Arroyo’s assessment as “scathing and accurate.”

“The truth hurts. The people should not be misled by the opposition’s Grand Coalition because it is a grand conspiracy to fortify [Estrada’s] political clout, and not a coalition for the country’s progress,” Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenca said.

Bulacan Rep. Lorna Silverio added: “It’s not surprising why its members are leaving UNO and joining the administration coalition, which has a clear platform of good governance and national development.”