Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lakas stops defections; NP gains

by Fel V. Maragay

Original Story: http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNation.htm?f=2009/december/22/nation1.isx&d=/2009/december/22

A good number of political butterflies may have shifted alliances as the opposition Nacionalista Party and Liberal Party try to beef up their forces for the 2010 elections.

In the past weeks, Senators Manuel Villar and Benigno Aquino III paraded before the public the congressmen, governors, mayors and other local executives whom they pirated from Lakas-Kampi. They used this gimmick to bolster their claim that their presidential bid is gaining ground.

“These defectors can only mean one thing: 2010 will be a great year for the Nacionalista Party. With our stock continuously growing, I am confident we can relive the greatness of the grand old party,” Villar said.

But Lakas-Kampi secretary-general Francis Manglapus said the administration party was not as badly hurt by the defections. “There is absolutely no mass exodus. That is a complete misinformation or disinformation,” Manglapus told Standard Today in a phone interview.

If there were Lakas members who switched political affiliations especially at the local level, he said it was primarily because they could not be accommodated as official party candidates.

According to Manglapus, the ruling party foresaw this problem when the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino were merged into one party several months ago.

He dismissed as unfounded a statement, attributed to Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Lakas-Kampi vice president for Mindanao, that the administration party has lost as much as 40 percent of its members to the opposition.

“That is not accurate. As I said, those who have left are those who could not be accommodated by our party. Let’s say in a city, there is an incumbent Lakas mayor, and there is a Kampi contender for the same position. The former will be the official party candidate based on the equity-of-incumbent rule that we are following. Naturally, the Kampi candidate who was bumped off will look for another party willing to take him in,” the Lakas stalwart said.

Manglapus said if the ruling party has suffered losses, it could be no more than 10 percent of its forces.

He said if about 70 percent of elected local officials were with Lakas-Kampi before the realignment of forces, it may be down to 65 percent now.

“The truth is not that many incumbent local officials have deserted the administration party. And if there were those who left, there were also new members who came aboard,” he said.

Manglapus added the defections could not be avoided because Lakas-Kampi decided to do away with free zones or multiple candidates vying for the same position.

“We have to choose the best qualified and most winnable as the official candidate. And he who is not chosen has the option of looking for another party to pursue his candidacy,” he said.

Earlier, the Nacionalista Party spokesman and senatorial candidate Adel Tamano said his group was targeting the recruitment of as many as 50 of 86 provincial governors.

But as of this month, only six incumbent governors have joined the NP—Luis Raymond Villafuerte (Camarines Sur), Robert Ace Barbers (Surigao del Sur), Douglas Cagas (Davao del Sur), Luis Cuaresma (Nueva Vizcaya), Rogelio Espina (Biliran) and Corazon Malanyaon (Davao Oriental).

The number of NP congressmen has increased but this was likewise below the expectations of party leaders. They are Cynthia Villar (Las PiƱas), Laarni Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros), Oscar Malapitan (Caloocan), Vincent Crisologo (Quezon City), Carlos Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya), Ana York Bondoc (Pampanga), Justin Chipeco (Laguna), Al Francisco Bichara (Albay), Fernejel Biron (Iloilo), Eduardo Gullas (Cebu City), Erico Fabian (Zamboanga City), Rolando Uy (Cagayan de Oro City), Marina Clarete (Misamis Occidental), Nelson Dayanghirang (Davao del Sur), Douglas Cagas IV (Davao del Sur) and Florencio Garay (Surigao del Sur).

Original Story: http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNation.htm?f=2009/december/22/nation1.isx&d=/2009/december/22

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