Aquino must strive to preserve coalition for 2016 – Escudero

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Escudero said on Tuesday, June 16, that he supports President Benigno Aquino III's goal to preserve the existing coalition among dominant political parties for the 2016 presidential elections. 

"Tama lang si Pangulo, sa pananaw ko, na sikapin na mabuo ang coalition. 'Yung coalition na sinuportahan at sumoporta sa mga kandidato noong 2013. Mas malaki ang coalition kasi na 'yan kaysa sa 2010. Siguro nais niya ma-preserve ang coaltion ng 2013 hanggang 2016," said Escudero, a close friend of Aquino. (READ: NPC may split from Aquino's coalition in 2016)

(It's only right for the President, in my opinion, to strive to keep the coalition intact. This is the coalition that was supported and provided support to the candidates in 2013. This is a bigger coalition compared to the 2010 polls. I think he wants to preseve the coalition in 2013 to last until 2016.)

Aquino is expected to meet with Escudero this week regarding the 2016 elections. He expressed openness to becoming Senator Grace Poe's possible running mate. Both do not belong to any political party.

Aquino said last week he is talking to several presidential wannabes because he has a "role as a head of coalition of so many different parties" to "preserve" the coalition that "led to our ability to deliver all that has been done these past 5 years."

The administration's coalition consists of the President's Liberal Party (LP), businessman Eduardo Cojuangco's Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), former Senator Manuel Villar's Nacionalista Party (NP), and other smaller political parties, party-list groups, and independent candidates.

Together in 2013, they walloped the candidates supported by Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada, and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

The same coalition supported many legislative measures and executed Aquino's bold political moves.

But Escudero acknowledged it will not be easy to keep the coalition together. "Nagkaisa lang naman ang lahat sa ilalim niya noon e; noong siya ang kandidato. Ngayon, marami na rin nag-a-ambisyon since patapos na ang kaniyang term. 'Yun siguro ang pangunahaing hamon. 'Yung dami ng taong nag-nanais tumakbo sa anumang pwesto sa 2016 – pagkapangulo man, pagka-senador man o anumang pwesto," he said.

(They were only able to unite under him; when he was the candidate. This time, there are so many people who are aiming for the post. I think that is the biggest challenge. The number of people who want to run for several posts in 2016 – presidency, senate, and other posts.)

LP's burden from 2013 polls

Aquino has been in talks with Poe for a possible run in 2016. LP stalwarts however say that they expect the President, being LP's chairman, to pick his preferred successor from within the party.

LP president and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said they are looking at Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II as presidential candidate and Poe as his running mate. 

But there's a hitch. Roxas, the LP president-on-leave, antagonized other political parties in the 2013 elections when the ruling party fielded candidates to dislodge other political parties in their vote-rich bailiwicks. (READ: The symbolic races in 2013)

Various tandems have been floated as the October deadline for the filing of Certificates of Candidacy looms.

NPC Senator Vicente Sotto III said the second biggest political party may support a Poe-Escudero ticket. NPC officials acknowledged that the two are the closest to the party among the wannabes but maintained that the 2016 has not been formally discussed.

"Nagkaka-usap naman kami pero hindi pa tungkol sa bagay na ito pa. Puro kuwentuhan lamang at estimahan ika nga pero wala pang tiyak na pag-uusap (We talk but it's not about that. It's usually a social meeting and some feelers  but the are no formal talks)," Escudero said.

Both Poe and Escudero maintained that they will remain independent whether or not they decide to run for higher posts in 2016. –