Press Release
April 19, 2009

Unity of the opposition is a must - Pimentel

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said that all opposition forces should work for unity and for fielding a common presidential candidate in the 2010 elections even if there are those who think it is an elusive objective.

Pimentel, Chairman of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), warned that the opposition is courting a disaster if it will have two or more presidential bets who will be pitted against the standard bearer of the administration.

He said that the availability of so many presidential aspirants shows the strength of the opposition. But he called on them to set aside their differences and agree on a common candidate if they are really sincere and determining in fighting the administration and returning to power.

"What I am saying is it would be more difficult to defeat the candidate of the administration if we have two or more candidates from the opposition. And you are providing the administration with an excuse that if you lose, even if you have been cheated. They will say again you lost because there were too many of you and you split the opposition votes," the senator from Mindanao said.

Pimentel said he recognizes the important role of former President Joseph Estrada in providing leadership to the various opposition parties. He said he is fully supporting the former president's effort to unify the opposition and to enhance their fighting chance in the coming polls.

He said those who tend to disregard Estrada's role are being myopic because he remains to be the most influential opposition leader. He said there is basis for the belief that Estrada can still influence the decision of 20 to 30 percent of the voting populace, mostly belonging to the so-called masa crowd, to support a candidate whom he will endorse.

To complement Estrada's initiative, he said he has proposed the holding of a national convention of opposition parties to thresh out steps to unite under a coalition and to field a common set of candidates, especially for the presidency, vice presidency and the senatorial slate.

He said the presidential aspirants and parties within the opposition will have equal representation in the national convention and they will be entitled to nominate their own delegates.

During the convention, all the presidential aspirants will be asked to address the delegates by espousing on their platform of government and aspirations for the country. Then, the delegates will vote on their chosen presidential contender by secret balloting.

Pimentel said he presented his proposal to set the ball rolling for drawing up the mechanics and rules for selecting the common presidential candidate of the united opposition. If there are opposition leaders who can come up with a better, workable and more acceptable option, then that should be adopted by all means, he said.

The minority leader also stressed the importance of distinguishing who are the genuine oppositionists from those who are pretending to be with the opposition because that is a convenient and popular thing to do.

"There are so many aspirants for the presidency. But the first thing we should do is to find out whether these people are truly oppositionists or they are pseudo-oppositionists. That is a very dangerous thing because we may be taken for a ride," Pimentel said.

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