Lito, Bong going for Villar

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — ADMINISTRATION Senators Lito Lapid and Ramon Revilla Jr. are supporting Senator Manuel Villar’s bid for re-election as Senate president.

One of Lapid’s staffers said the senator has faxed from Las Vegas a statement of support, backing Villar’s bid to retain the Senate presidency.

Revilla is also going for Villar in the race for the Senate presidency, a source said. But Revilla refused to be interviewed by the media on the issue.

Even as this developed, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the opposition bloc would meet again on July 22, a day before the 14th Congress convenes, in a last-ditch effort to unify the opposition and ensure their hold on the Senate leadership.

Last Friday, opposition senators met but failed to push through with their plan to hold a secret balloting to choose between Villar and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. as their common candidate for Senate president.

Apart from Lapid and Revilla, the other supporters of Villar in the Senate included Joker Arroyo, Edgardo Angara, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Juan Ponce Enrile, Richard Gordon, Pia Cayetano, Francis Pangilinan and Gregorio Honasan.

While Senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano ran under the Genuine Opposition banner, he is a member of the Nacionalista Party headed by Villar.

If all these senators indeed support Villar, they would constitute a bloc of 12 senators, enough to constitute a majority in the 23-man Upper Chamber. Enrile earlier predicted that Villar would get the support of at least 13 senators.

But Lacson is not losing hope the opposition bloc could get their act together and unite in the selection of the next Senate president.

“By simple arithmetic, eight [opposition senators] are coming in after Koko [Aquilino Pimentel III] is proclaimed. Add three sitting senators who ran under the opposition in 2004—Jinggoy [Estrada], Jamby [Madrigal], Nene [Pimentel]. Add to that Mar [Roxas] and Pong [Biazon] of the Liberal Party. So easily, that’s 13 by simple arithmetic,” Lacson said.

“And Villar could very well be the Senate president come the 14th Congress with all of us [in the opposition bloc] staying together,” he added.

But Lacson said that he could not explain why despite their number, some of the members of the opposition bloc would prefer to negotiate with the administration bloc.

“But I just hope we in the opposition [bloc] will remain united and intact,” he said

“The last time we met, we agreed the last and only meeting we will have from hereon will be July 22, one day before opening of Congress. If we could not consolidate our ranks to form a group of 12 or 13, it’s all our fault. We should not blame the administration senators; we should only blame ourselves,” he said.

There were speculations that the cracks in the opposition bloc were caused by the reported presidential ambition of some of their members, including Lacson himself, Roxas, Villar, and Senator Loren Legarda.

Lacson said the issue of the presidential ambition of some of them in 2010 should not become a factor in the unity of the opposition because it would just complicate matters.

“That’s history or political science. We should confine our talks in the elementary level—simple arithmetic and spelling. If we talk about political science and history, it would become too complicated,” he said.