United opposition in 2022? Trillanes, LP spar over presidential bets

Unless Vice President Leni Robredo decides to run as president next year, the opposition may have to kiss its dream of a united ticket goodbye as former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV balked at the two pro-Duterte names being floated by the Liberal Party as possible standard-bearers.

Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (Czar Dancel / Manila Bulletin/Liberal Party Facebook)

It looks like the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is not the only political party that’s facing problems in having a united ticket for the May 2022 polls.

This, after Trillanes announced that he and his Magdalo Party is only going to join the opposition’s ticket if Robredo will run.

“Last week, nag-announce ang LP na bukas sila sa pagtulak kina Isko at Pacquiao bilang kandidato para sa 2022. Meron ba itong basbas ni VP? 5yrs tayong nagsakripisyong labanan ang mga kasamaan ni Duterte tapos mauuwi lang tayo sa mga pro-duts candidates? Di ito katanggap-tanggap! (Last week, the LP announced that they are open to Isko and Pacquiao for 2022. Does this have the blessing of VP? We have sacrificed for five years to fight against the evilness of Duterte and then we’re going to fall on pro-Duterte candidates? This is unacceptable!),” he said in a tweet.

He was referring to LP president Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s statement that the party is open to talk with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Senator Manny Pacquiao about their political plans. Robredo has yet to decide whether to run for president.

READ: LP reaching out to possible 2022 bets, including Pacquiao, Isko etc

“I made it clear that I will step aside for VP Leni in case she runs. But the LP statement said that you are considering Isko and Pacquiao as standard bearers in 2022. That is your right as a traditional political party. Pero hindi kami sasama sa inyo pag ginawa nyo yan (We will not be one with you in that),” Trillanes added.

Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, the party’s secretary-general, answered back and quoted Robredo in saying that “hindi pwedeng tayo-tayo lang (we cannot do it alone).”

“Only the VP can unite all pro-democracy forces. Hindi pwedeng nasa mga sarili nating echo chamber lang tayo lagi (We cannot stay in our own echo chambers always). We need to reach out and listen to others,” he added.

Belmonte said how Trillanes wants to run his own presidential campaign “is his prerogative,” but reiterated that it’s Robredo who is the true leader of the opposition and the one who should run as president.

The LP stalwart stressed, though, that he has the “the deepest respect and admiration“ for Trillanes.

Former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., the party’s vice president for internal affairs and the one responsible for its recruitment activities, chimed in on Twitter as well.

“Just to reiterate: 1. LP is still in full throttle to push for and strengthen the candidacy of VP Leni as our presidential bet for 2022. 2. We are talking to other groups so that we will have the broadest coalition in case VPL finally decides,” he said.

READ: LP preparing for possible Robredo candidacy for president in 2022

This is not because they are desperate, he added, but it’s a “realization that we need to have the broadest coalition possible to support VPLeni.”

“And would like to emphasize that there are no formal talks yet. Nabanggit lang Sen FNP (Sen FNP just mentioned) that were open to talking to politicians who may form this coalition,” Baguilat said.

Talks of Robredo-Moreno tandem for the 2022 polls were abound as the two partnered to launch the Vaccine Express, a drive-through vaccination program in Manila.

Robredo said she is still focused on her COVID-19 response programs, but understands that she will have to decide soon if she will run as president.

Trillanes and Robredo are the only two who did not decline the nomination of opposition coalition 1Sambayan.