Manila Times - Pre-and post-election coalitions not one and the same

by Efren Danao

16 March 2013

Reelectionist Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th and Sen. Serge Osmena 3rd are both predicting that a new pro-administration majority will emerge in the 16th Congress and sweep Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile out of his top Senate post.

They are saying that based on surveys, up to 9 of the 12 Senate seats at stake this May will go to Team PNoy candidates. Perhaps, the survey standings will hold until Election Day. However, this does not mean that the winners from the same ticket will remain allies and will continue to support the administration after the election.

Senators love to proclaim their “independence” and their not being bound to any dictation by their political parties. Except for a few, party loyalty is virtually unknown in the Senate. And even when the senators keep their party affiliation, the lack of party discipline and of party stand on important issues make them individual republics.

The Nacionalista Party is Exhibit “A” of the confusion besetting our politics. The NP has  Alan Peter Cayetano, his sister Pia Cayetano and Manny Villar as members in the Senate. Pia ran in 2004 with the ticket of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo while her brother Alan ran in 2007 with the opposition. He’s now a candidate of Team PNoy. But that’s not what’s curious with the NP. Alan is minority leader, the same with his sister Pia, while Manny Villar is with the majority. This old party really got all bases covered.

A similar oddity took place in the Ninth Congress. The Senate minority leader was Wigberto Tanada although he ran in 1992 in the Cory-backed ticket that won 21 of the 24 seats at stake.

Then, there’s the Nationalist People’s Coalition that has Senators Loren Legarda and Tito Sotto as members. Loren is now swearing allegiance to the NPC. She’s  saying that as a good party soldier, she has to join Team PNoy since NPC is a coalition partner of the Liberal Party. Wait, I heard that line before! On June 16, 2002, she “reaffirmed” her loyalty to Lakas which fielded her as candidate in 1992,  and to President Arroyo, as she denied reports that she had already joined the opposition.

“I am not jumping ship. I am firm in my position to stay with Lakas, to support the President,” she said in a telephone interview.

Some 18 months later, she jumped ship. She became the running mate of the late Fernando Poe Jr. who ran against GMA in 2004.

But that’s just half the story. Also on the same date, then Senate President Franklin Drilon shrugged off reports that Legarda had joined the opposition, saying he had no reason to doubt her loyalty.

“There are no cracks in the administration bloc. No one is jumping ship. In fact, our group has become even more cohesive and united,” Drilon said but he later followed Legarda in withdrawing support for GMA.

Drilon belonged to the Liberal Party that was headed then by Sen. Mar Roxas who ran for senator in 2004 under the GMA ticket. Another LP member, Kiko Panglinan, ran for senator in 2001 supported by GMA. The LP, as we all know, turned opposition to GMA and with this, Roxas, Drilon and Pangilinan turned their backs on their coalition partners during the election campaign.

Former Sen. Alfredo Lim ran for president in 1998 as Liberal and lost, joined the Cabinet of then President Joseph Estrada, supported the installation of GMA as president in Edsa 2 that ousted 
Estrada, then became senator under the FPJ ticket. He cut short his term as senator when he ran for Manila mayor. His reelection is now being contested by Estrada.

Last Wednesday, Estrada and Lim figured in a lively debate at a television program hosted by fellow Novo Ecijano Anthony Taberna. One issue raised in the debate was Lim’s joining Edsa 2. He justified this by saying that he could not  support a plunderer.

Well, Lim was singing a different tune on Jan. 24, 2007 when he delivered a privileged speech about Edsa 2. He questioned the legality of the ouster of Estrada and described as “questionable and illegal” the swearing in of GMA on Jan. 20, 2001.

He said people were mourning the day that the Constitution was transgressed and that there was deception and conspiracy in GMA’s “illegal assumption of office.”

Lim did not mention in his speech that he personally attended and applauded the swearing in of GMA  at Edsa 2.

Lim arrived in the company of retired Gen. Romeo Maganto after then Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes and Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado had mounted the stage at EDSA and declared their abandonment of the Estrada administration.