MANILA (Sept. 22) — To face up to Noynoy-Mar’s strong North-South alliance, says pro-Cory labor leader Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s decision to pick Sen. Mar Roxas as running mate under the Liberal Party (LP) has put pressure on rivals Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro of Lakas-KAMPI and Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party (NP) to get their own vice presidential partners from the Visayas or Mindanao, labor leader and former Senator Ernesto Herrera said Tuesday.
“The Aquino-Roxas tandem definitely represents a formidable North-South combination that both Teodoro and Villar will now have to match in order to build up their own chances of drawing more votes from the Visayas and Mindanao,” Herrera said.
Roxas, 52, hails from Capiz in the Visayas, thus complementing the Tarlac-Luzon foothold of Aquino, 49.
Teodoro, 45, Aquino’s cousin, also hails from Tarlac, while Villar, 59, is from Bataan.
“There are highly qualified prospective vice presidential candidates from the Visayas or Mindanao – from the Osmenas of Cebu, to the Defensors of Iloilo to the Plazas of Agusan, even Mayor (Rodrigo) Duterte of Davao City,” Herrera pointed out.
Former Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, 65, is said to be interested in returning to the Senate.
Osmeña’s grandfather, Sergio Osmeña, was a member of the NP. Osmeña’s father, Sergio Osmeña Jr., was also a member of the NP but defected to LP when he challenged Ferdinand Marcos in the 1969 elections.
Herrera, who hails from Cebu and Bohol, also said that Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., 75, would be a highly qualified vice presidential candidate if not for his age.
Herrera, however, acknowledged that Pimentel and the Osmeñas, who figured prominently in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, would likely eventually endorse, and not fight the Aquino-Roxas tandem.
Lakas-KAMPI has already initially selected Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno as Teodoro’s vice presidential mate. However, the Teodoro-Puno tandem is still subject to ratification by the administration party’s congress on Oct. 21.
Herrera, meanwhile, said the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), of which he is secretary-general, is prepared to help the next president draw up and carry out aggressive strategies to quickly address rising joblessness.
“Mounting unemployment is definitely one of the most pressing issues we face today. This is why more than 3,000 able-bodied Filipinos leave every day for overseas employment. This is why wages here remain depressed – owing to the large pool of college-educated but idle or underemployed workers,” Herrera said.
Herrera has been urging the government to allow trade unions to harness non-performing state assets for new productive projects that would provide gainful employment to workers thrown out of their jobs because of the collapse of the country’s export markets.
He has also been prodding the Board of Investments to give preferential tax incentives to new projects that offer the greatest potential in terms of jobs creation.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, who is seeking the vice presidency in 2010, shrugged off the pronouncement of Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who accepted Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s offer to be his runningmate.
Puno said that although he welcomed Roxas’ decision, he doubted Roxas’ ability to bring reforms to the country.
“Well, he (Roxas) is taller, more good-looking and younger than me,” Puno said in jest.
Puno and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro were chosen by the administration’s Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats party as its presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2010.
Puno said that both he and Roxas have ample time to lay out their proposals for change during the election’s campaign period.
“The challenge now is for us to bring our message to the public and explain the program of government that we envision so that our voters would be able to make wise choices come Election Day,” he added.
Puno believed that his “extensive experience” of 22 years in the government would be his biggest advantage over Roxas.