By MELISSA LUZ LOPEZ, VERA Files
There must always be a political opposition in a true democracy.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, along with candidates and key government leaders from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), stressed the importance of a dissenting voice in the Senate at the party’s miting de avance at Plaza Morga on Friday.
“There must be an opposition who will always be guiding whether this government will be fighting for the cause of the poor,” said Binay, who won the vice presidential race in 2010 under the UNA slate.
The vice president expressed alarm over the claims of the administration party that the latter would claim all 12 senatorial seats on May 13, and asked the people watch the elections closely.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile added, “Kaya sinasabi nilang (LP) 12-0 dahil gusto nilang makontrol ang Senado. Dapat ang Senado ay malaya, walang kinikilalang amo kundi kayo (The LP says it will be 12-0 because it wants to manipulate the Senate. The Senate should be free and should not cater to any master but the people).”
Enrile stressed the need for a genuine, responsible and critical voice of the opposition to achieve an independent “Senate of the people.”
Binay, Enrile and former President Joseph Estrada, who was also at the miting de avance, make up the troika that has been leading UNA, a coalition between the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.
Reacting to claims that UNA senatorial bets lacked the competence to be in Congress, Binay introduced the party’s candidates as skilled and experienced political leaders.
“Subok na po ang record namin (Our record has been tried and tested),” said incumbent Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, who is seeking reelection.
Jack Enrile, the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and incumbent representative of the first district of Cagayan, said he would strengthen the country’s agriculture industry to ensure lower food prices if elected senator.
Empowering provinces to locally generate their food source would create more jobs for Filipinos, the younger Enrile said.
Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri pledged an expanded version of the universal healthcare law, which he said is already being implemented in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
He said such healthcare provision is in place in Makati, where residents are given free access to medical services and given free medicines. The Binays have reigned over Makati for more than decades.
Zubiri resigned as senator in August 2011, a week before the Senate Electoral Tribunal ruled in favor of Aquilino Pimentel III’s petition alleging that fraud had attended Zubiri’s election in 2007. The resignation followed an admission by provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol of massive fraud in Maguindanao where Zubiri had won heavily.
Pimentel is running for reelection under the administration Liberal Party.
Three-term Zambales Rep. Maria Milagros Esperanza “Mitos” Magsaysay, dubbed “Senator Libre” also for her local measures on free healthcare, added that she would focus on education which, she said, would help Filipinos secure stable jobs.
In his campaign, Joseph Victor “JV” Estrada explained how he as mayor was able to generate livelihood in San Juan City, and threw his support for his father, former President Estrada, who is running as mayor in Manila.
Former Sen. Ernesto Maceda said he would initiate the creation of three million jobs a year and guaranteed to push for free tuition in all state universities and colleges.
Maceda, 78, also pledged to raise the discount currently enjoyed by senior citizens from 20 to 30 percent for food and basic goods and services, and added that students should be accorded the same benefits, which he called the “junior citizens’ discount.”
Political newbie Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, who has fashioned herself as a “nanay de pamilya,” vowed to allot more funds for education and healthcare.
The eldest daughter and personal assistant of Vice President Binay said she believes she can carry on the family’s legacy in public service.
Former senator Loi Estrada, her son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and local UNA candidates like incumbent Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno joined the miting de avance.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)