By TJ Burgonio
Politicians aspiring for inclusion in the Liberal Party’s senatorial lineup have had to go through a tough screening process because President Benigno Aquino is looking for true believers in his reform agenda.
“The President is looking for true believers, and not just people who would want to wear campaign vests and barnstorm with us,” Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Liberal Party president, told reporters in Malacañang on Friday.
Roxas said the senatorial aspirants should share the President’s personal belief that the people are their “boss,” and in his advocacy of transparent, accountable governance.
Roxas declined to say whether reelectionist senators went through the same process.
He said the finalization of the LP slate for next year’s midterm elections was sidetracked by the death of late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
“The past two weeks, our attention has been focused on the search and rescue and recovery operations for Secretary Robredo. Next week we will resume our work to present a lineup that the President will be proud of. That’s the litmus test,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Aquino said the LP senatorial slate had been finalized except for the final slot, admitting that the number of aspirants exceeded the 12 slots available.
“We’re in a coalition, so the subject of talks is who gets the final slot,” Mr. Aquino had said on August 17. That early, he said he had begun preparing endorsement speeches for each candidate.
The party is poised to introduce its slate this month. The guest candidates reportedly include Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, which will oppose the LP.
The midterm elections is seen as a precursor to the fight between the ruling coalition and the opposition led by Vice President Jejomar Binay who is widely expected to run for president in 2016.