Aquino fights for share in vote-rich Cavite

by Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

Posted at Oct 27 2009 12:42 AM | Updated as of Oct 27 2009 09:08 PM

His local ally, Governor Maliksi, rejoins LP

MANILA - The Liberal Party (LP) on Monday formally welcomed back to its fold Cavite Gov. Erineo "Ayong" Maliksi, who was previously with the breakaway group of Environment Secretary Lito Atienza.

Maliksi vowed that his machinery will deliver to LP standard-bearers Benigno Aquino III and Manuel Roxas II a sizeable share of the vote-rich province, where the Nationalista Party (NP) of Manuel Villar and the Lakas-Kampi-CMD supporting Gilbert Teodoro are already established.

"This is a happy occasion for all of us. We welcome with great joy Governor Ayong Maliksi and his officials to the Liberal Party," Aquino said after 46 local officials, including Maliksi, took their oath before LP stalwarts.

Cavite is one of the country's vote-rich provinces with 1,520,319 registered voters, based on Commission on Elections data as of March 2009. Its population was boosted by the growth of the low-cost subdivisions in the province, many of them developed by Villar’s firm.

The LP was divided in 2005 when members, led by Atienza, disagreed with the move of then LP President Franklin Drilon to abandon President Arroyo because of the "Hello, Garci" controversy. Acting on a petition, the Supreme Court recognized the Drilon wing.

Liability?

NP spokesperson Gilbert Remulla said Maliksi’s known shifts in political allegiances might affect Aquino negatively.

"Maliksi has shifted from GMA (President Arroyo) to LP-Drilon wing to LP-Atienza wing to Chiz Escudero and now, Noynoy. His lack of loyalty would even be a liability for whoever he is supporting," Remulla told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a text message.

Maliksi was a protégé of the Remulla patriarch and has since turned against the latter’s family after he won as Cavite governor in 2001.

The Remullas are confident that Cavite will go for Villar.

According to former Cavite vice-governor Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla, the mayors in 18 out of the 20 towns and 3 cities in Cavite are members of their local party Partido Magdalo. In ceremonies last month, where 300 Cavite officials were inducted into the NP, Jonvic vowed to use this machinery for Villar.

Lakas mayors

The administration, on the other hand, controls the municipalities of Bacoor and Dasmariñas and Trece Martires City. Combined, these three local government units have about 600,000 registered voters, meaning administration candidate Teodoro has the chance to win in Cavite if these three local government units will go all out for him.

Bacoor has about 250,000 voters, while Dasmariñas has about 300,000 voters.

However, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, a former mayor of Dasmariñas, said it’s too early to tell how Caviteños will vote in 2010. "I don't really know right now. I am still assessing the situation. It's still very uncertain," he said.

Although Barzaga is with Lakas-Kampi-CMD, he is leaning toward Maliksi’s group in the local race because he ran against Gilbert Remulla in the 2007 congressional election.

Maliksi’s is the latest local political bloc to declare support for Aquino's candidacy. In Cebu, the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan recently endorsed the Liberal Party standard-bearers. (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)