Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Villar’s next campaign: leadership of Senate

by Fel V. Maragay

Original Story:

DESPITE the Liberal Party’s gains in this week’s elections, the Nacionalista Party is likely to have the upper hand in gaining control of the Senate when the 15th Congress opens its regular session in July.

After losing the presidential race, Nacionalista standard bearer Senator Manuel Villar Jr. may try to reclaim the Senate presidency. The Liberals, on the other hand, are expected to field former Senate president Frank Drilon.

The numbers are likely to favor Villar, who still has three years in his term as senator, just like his running mate Senator Loren Legarda, who lost the vice presidential race.

Three other candidates who ran under the Nacionalista banner—Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Pia Cayetano and Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.—look likely to win a place in the new Senate.

Alan Peter Cayetano, a sitting senator, is also a Nacionalista Party member.

In a Senate leadership fight, the Nacionalistas may rely on the support of Senator Joker Arroyo, a known ally and defender of Villar and Senator Edgardo Angara, president of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, who backed Legarda in the vice presidential race.

On the other side of the fence, the Liberals have three or possibly four incoming senators: Drilon, former Senators Ralph Recto and Sergio Osmeña III, and Teofisto Guingona III.

Among the four Liberal senators in the 14th Congress, only one, Francis Pangilinan, will be left when the next Congress convenes.

At least three independent senators may be counted as Liberal allies—Francis Escudero, Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes, who all openly supported Aquino in the presidential contest.

But Lacson and Trillanes might not be able to vote in the election of the incoming Senate president. Lacson has gone into hiding abroad to evade arrest for his alleged involvement in the Dacer-Corbito murder case. Trillanes remains in jail for his involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

Between Villar and Drilon, Villar is in a better position to forge a tactical alliance with Lakas-Kampi-CMD Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Lito Lapid. He may also court the support of Vicente Sotto III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, who is identified with the Arroyo administration.

With the new alignment of forces, political watchers say Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will have little or no chance of retaining his position.

Enrile may only rely on his colleague in the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and independent Senator Gregorio Honasan for support.

Enrile is unlikely to support Villar, whom he attacked as a corrupt politician during the last campaign, and is more likely to lean towards Drilon, a former law partner.

In the House of Representatives, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD expects to retain its dominance. The administration party fielded 169 candidates for congressmen, of whom about l06 have already been proclaimed or are about to be proclaimed winners, says party executive director Ray Roquero.

President Gloria Arroyo, who is running for Congress in the Second District of Pampanga, is far ahead of her opponents there, and wants to be speaker. The administration party’s control over the House is crucial to that bid.

Among the Lakas congressional bets who have either been proclaimed or are about to be proclaimed are:

Mitz Cahayon, Caloocan City; Magtanggol Guiniguindo, Valenzuela City; Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David, Manila; Roman Romulo, Pasig City; Bernardo Vergara, Baguio City; Victor Ortega, La Union; Rachel Arenas, Pangasinan; Rodolfo Albano Jr., Isabela; Janet Garin, Iloilo; Sergio Apostol, Leyte; Roger Mercado, Southern Leyte; Pedro Romualdo, Camiguin; Imelda Dimaporo; Lanao del Norte; Thelma Almario, Davao Oriental; Francisco Matugas, Surigao del Norte; Philip Pichay,

Surigao del Sur; Simeon Datumanong, Maguindanao; Tupay Loong, Sulu; Rodolfo Antonino, Nueva Ecija; Carina Umali, Nueva Ecija; Pedro Pancho, Bulacan; Albert Garcia, Bataan; Lani Revilla, Cavite; Elpidio Barzaga, Cavite, Edcel Lagman, Albay; and Rolando Andaya and Dato Arroyo, Camarines Sur.

A question mark is Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, who seems open to becoming speaker again after winning election to the Fourth District of Quezon City.

He was noncommittal about going head to head against Mrs. Arroyo, with whom he was allied until the last election, when he bolted to the Liberals.

In a text message to Manila Standard, Belmonte said, “I will cross the bridge when I get there.’’ With Roy Pelovello

Original Story:

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