Byline: BEN R.ROSARIO
Common action plan on the agenda
The countrys major political leaders will record another crucial event in Philippine political history when they gather today to seek a landmark consensus on priority reforms and draw up a common Action Plan to "help arrest hopelessness and give our people a new road map and new hope."
Speaker Jose de Venecia will preside at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the political parties at the Manila Hotel which will be the second such conference to be conducted in the country since 2002.
De Venecia organized a similar event, the First Summit of Philippine Political Parties, in May 2002 also in the same venue.
The House leader will make the opening statement at 9 a.m. at the hotels Champagne Room to begin an expected eighthour session during which party leaders will discuss reforms and set the agenda for the bigger summit of political parties likely to be held later this year.
Representatives Rene Velarde (BUHAY) and Loretta Ann Rosales (Akbayan) lauded the decision to call the meeting and include party-list organizations as participants.
Top officials of at least 11 of the countrys biggest political parties and five party-list groups have signified their intention to participate.
Malacanang has endorsed the political summit hoping it will "help unite the nation towards greater political and economic security."
De Venecia said the crucial meeting could "set the national agenda in the next 12 months and beyond."
"The response to our call for a unity meeting has been tremendous," said De Venecia, president of the ruling Lakas-CMD which will be represented by House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles and Rep. Ace Barbers.
Two other major political figures, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the Peoples Reform Party and Sen. Alfredo Lim, have confirmed their participation in the meeting.
The First Summit of Political Parties resulted in a collective condemnation of destabilization plots against the government and approved a package of financial, economic, political and constitutional reforms to sustain economic recovery and restore stability.
De Venecia said those who responded to his invitation to the "unity summit" include Sen. Edgardo Angara and former Rep. Mike Romero of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino; Deputy Speaker Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party; Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party; Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino; Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay of PDP-Laban; former Sen. Raul Roco and Rep. Edcel Lagman of Aksyon Demokratiko; Rep. Luis Villafuerte of Kampi; Deputy Speaker Emilio Espinosa, Tourism Secretary Ace Durano and Executive Director Rodolfo Golepo of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition; Vice Gov. Wahid Mutilan of Ompia, the largest Muslim Party, and Secretary Norberto Gonzales of PDSP.
Party-list groups expected to attend are Akbayan to be represented by Rosales; Bayan Muna, Rep. Satur Ocampo; CIBAC, Rep. Joel Villanueva; and Rep. Ernesto Pablo of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC).
De Venecia said the large-scale political parties summit that will follow the Standing Committee meeting will demonstrate the "solidarity of the nations political leadership in the face of extra-constitutional attempts to stir up instability."
The Speaker further said that beyond the show of unity, the parties heads could agree, among other items on the agenda, "to complete urgent financial and economic reforms to solve the financial crisis. …