Press Release
June 28, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged various opposition groups to undertake efforts to unify their forces for the possible fielding of a common presidential candidate in the 2010 elections if they are to recapture power.

Pimentel said the importance of unifying the opposition forces behind a common standard bearer has become more pronounced now in view of the merger of two major administration parties - Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats and Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino - obviously intended to boost their winning chances in 2010 with the exit of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He said it is proof of the vitality of the opposition that it has an impressive stable of presidential aspirants, that include Senate President Manuel Villar (Nacionalista Party) and Senators Mar Roxas (Liberal Party), Loren Legarda (Nationalist People's Coalition) and Panfilo Lacson and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay. Former President Joseph Estrada has also signified his intention to run for president despite questions on whether he is covered by the constitutional ban against a second term.

But Pimentel warned that too many opposition candidates may work against them just like what happened in the 2004 presidential election when the candidacy of the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr. was compromised by the refusal of other opposition contenders to withdraw from the race.

"I would like to tell them that as much as possible, there should only be one presidential candidate for the opposition. If there are so many candidates, this will only split the votes of opposition supporters," he said.

"It will also be easier for the administration to cheat."

Pimentel said unification also means that the opposition groups will have a common ticket for the senatorial, congressional and local government posts at stake.

"I hope that will happen. As it is, we have our hands full trying to minimize conflicts involving various opposition groups," he said.

Pimentel, chairman of PDP-Laban, said he prefers younger opposition leaders to take a crack at the presidency and to lead the country.

On the qualifications that a presidential candidates must possess, he said: "What is important is not that we should have a person who knows how to dance or sing on the stage but who has a solid platform that he can explain to the people as the reason why he is running for the highest position in the land."

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