MANILA - Politicians from different parties who are running for local positions have joined the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), amid strong indications the party will support Senator Grace Poe and her running mate Senator Francis Escudero in the 2016 elections.
Some 200 officials took their oaths as new NPC members on Friday, following Poe's and Escudero's separate announcements of their 2016 presidential and vice presidential bids. Among them were Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya of Lakas and other officials from Muntinlupa City and the provinces of Quezon, Batangas, and Laguna.
READ: It's Poe-Chiz in 2016 polls
Andaya said he joined NPC to support Poe and Escudero.
"I think the pair would present a fresh start for our country," he said. "After my conversations with Grace and Chiz, I think it would be best for my province that we transfer to NPC to fully support them."
Caloocan Rep. Recom Echiverri of the administration's Liberal Party (LP) was present at the oath-taking. He did not take an oath and initially denied he was joining the NPC, but party leaders said otherwise.
"Yes, he will be joining. Congressman Echiverri will be joining. He has signified his intention to join," said Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, NPC's president, adding that the party will likely schedule a separate oath-taking for him and other officials.
Aggabao's statement contradicts Echiverri's, who earlier told reporters he was at the NPC Club House just to speak with officials on matters not necessarily related to politics.
Aggabao said more officials are expected to join NPC in the coming weeks.
The country's second largest political party has yet to officially endorse any presidential and vice presidential candidate. The actions and statements of its members, however, all indicate the party will support Poe and Escudero.
Speaking before the oath-taking of the party's newest members, NPC chairman Faustino Dy heaped praises on the two senators, who have pledged to run as independents.
"Magiging presidente at bise presidente sila ng buong Pilipino, hindi lang ng partido. Napakagandang tingnan no'n na wala silang tinitingala na partido (They will be the president and vice president of the entire Filipino nation, not only of a party. It's very good to see they're not beholden to any party)," Dy said.
Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga, NPC spokesman, said it is possible the party attracted new members because of its possible support for Poe and Escudero.
"We can't discount that. We believe that since we are still open, maybe there are those that are hopeful," he said. "We also have members particularly in Congress who have encouraged their local executives to join the party who are probably fanatics of Senator Grace Poe."
Enverga added, however, that the NPC will be part of the LP-led coalition and will continue to support President Aquino until his term ends in 2016.
Meanwhile, An Waray Party-list has officially thrown its support behind the Poe-Escudero tandem.
An Waray's chairman Bem Noel said Poe's and Escudero's platforms are consistent with his group's.
He said 15 more party-list groups—excluding those from the Makabayan bloc, which are reportedly about to announce their support for Poe and Escudero—are expected to back the tandem.