Bam: Opposition slate needed in 2019 polls

Sen. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV said that an opposition slate is needed for next year's midterm elections. Senate PRIB

Bam: Opposition slate needed in 2019 polls

Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - March 26, 2018 - 6:33pm
MANILA, Philippines — There is a need for an independent opposition slate which will provide alternatives to policies of President Rodrigo Duterte during next year's midterm national and local elections, Sen. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV said on Monday.
Aquino, the only Liberal Party senator seeking reelection next year, however, said the groups and individuals that would compose the coalition are still "fluid" as it is still too early to be focusing on next year's polls.
"I think it’s important to have an opposition coalition, an independent slate next elections. I think that's important, it's important that people who are willing to stand up and oppose policies of the administration come together," Aquino said in a television interview.
Last week, Vice President Leni Robredo, the highest-ranking government official of the Liberal Pary, hit government figures perceived to already be on campaign mode and urged them to focus on their jobs first.
She said in an interview that it is still too early to be talking about elections when they were still more than a year away. 
Aquino also expressed disinterest in joining the senatorial slate of the ruling PDP-Laban after Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III excluded him from the party's prospective candidates.
Pimentel was elected in 2013 while under the Liberal Party-led administration coalition.
In a radio interview, Pimentel said that he would fight for the inclusion of senators who belong to the Senate's majority bloc and would seek reelection next year, just days after Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito expressed disappointment over their exclusion from the administration slate.
Aside from Aquino and Ejercito, other senators expected to seek reelection are Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe and Cynthia Villar.
Aquino said that these incumbents could become part of the opposition slate as well as new faces and individuals.
"It (coalition) is open to incumbent (candidates), it's open to new faces, but they should be ready to oppose policies of the administration which are detrimental to the nation," he said, adding that both traditional parties and groups could be invited to join.
Aquino cited the mounting number of bloody war on drugs and the rising prices of goods and services and the escalating rate of unemployment as some issues that the coalition would address.
Although the coalition's position on federalism is still unclear, he said that the group should fight for the conduct of 2019 elections amid talk of a possible cancellation of polls in the past months.
Aquino's Liberal Party was the dominant political party during the previous administration, but its ranks have shrunk considerably since Duterte's 2016 election as many of its members switched their party allegiance, a regular feature of Philippine politics due to its weak party system.

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