Gibo-Loren tandem could be bloody for locals

by Carmela Fonbuena and Jesus Llanto,

Posted at Nov 05 2009 03:53 PM | Updated as of Nov 06 2009 08:13 AM

Ruling party will have to consider NPC members in its arbitration for local bets

MANILA - While a coalition between administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) seems logical, even very likely, at the national level, the alliance is not expected to be just as smooth in local bailiwicks.
Newsbreak research shows that in the last elections, there were a number of localities where Lakas, Kampi, and NPC fielded candidates against each other. Coming up with common bets in these areas in 2010 thus poses a problem—a concern that an NPC official acknowledges.

Unlike Lakas-Kampi, the NPC this early has picked its local bets, according to secretary-general Rizal Rep. Michael John “Jack” Duavit. It may not be easy to ask these NPC members to give way to coalition partners.

“We are doing consultations, not just who to support [for president]. We [also] have to map sino’ng makakalaban namin—sino sa administration, sino sa opposition, sino kay Erap? Malaking factor ’yun (We also have to map who we will up against [at the local level]—who from the administration, from the opposition, from Erap’s camp. That will be a major factor),” Duavit told in a phone interview on Monday.

Strategic allies

An alliance between Lakas-Kampi and NPC in 2010 seems logical. The two political parties have been strategic allies in the House of Representatives for years. NPC’s 27 members in the House boost Lakas-Kampi’s 141, giving the administration a clear majority in the 268-member legislative chamber.
Together, Lakas-Kampi and NPC were able to easily pass the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension bill, approve the convening of the Constituent Assembly, and junk impeachment complaints filed against President Arroyo.

The Nacionalista Party of Senator Manuel Villar is also wooing the NPC, but Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Lakas-Kampi-CMD president, said on Tuesday he is confident they can persuade the NPC to coalesce with them.

Abandoned by its presumptive standard bearer, the NPC has yet to come up with a strategy for 2010. If NPC, the country’s second biggest political party, can unify to support another candidate, it may just offer the swing vote in 2010.

Local conflicts

A coalition between NPC and Lakas-Kampi is only smooth at the national level. Local politics is a totally different story.

As it is, the administration party is beset by internal conflicts between members seeking the same position in 2010. To include the NPC in the equation will complicate the matter.

Newsbreak research shows that NPC went head-to-head with Lakas or Kampi candidates in the 2007 elections in at least 14 congressional, 7 gubernatorial, 4 vice gubernatorial, and 3 mayoralty races.

Duavit acknowledges that the local conflicts will weigh heavily in the party’s decision to coalesce or not with another political party.

NPC candidates challenged at least two Lakas-Kampi stalwarts in 2007.

Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa ran against NPC’s Ernesto Jaravata in Occidental Mindoro. Villarosa can still run for another term.

Lakas-Kampi deputy secretary-general Jose Solis Sr. ran against NPC’s Ricardo Golpeo in Sorsogon. While Solis is on his last term, he is planning to field a relative to take over his post.

In at least three positions, Lakas, Kampi and NPC had separate candidates in 2007.

Florante Aquino of Lakas, Adoracion Alava of Kampi, and Arcadio Gapangada of NPC challenged each other in the 2007 congressional race for the 3rd district of Laguna. Liberal Party’s Maria Evita Arago won.

The three parties each had candidates for the gubernatorial post in Masbate province. Gov. Olga Kho of Lakas triumphed against Armando Sanano of Kampi and Emilio Espinosa Jr. of NPC.

In Surigao del Norte, Vice Governor Noel Catre of Lakas also triumphed against Rodolfo Navarro of Kampi and Alan Ecleo of NPC.

2004 strategy

To resolve the conflicts within Lakas-Kampi, the ruling party had adopted the equity of the incumbent rule. It means the sitting Lakas or Kampi governors, congressmen, and mayors—unless they are on their last term—become the automatic standard-bearers of the new party.

This has resulted in defections. One of them is Biliran Gov. Rogelio Espina, who is seeking a seat in the House of Representatives. Following the incumbent rule, Rep. Glenn Chong will get the nomination. Chong recently bolted the Liberal Party to join Lakas-Kampi.

Duavit said there’s a possibility that NPC may repeat their strategy in the 2004 presidential elections, when their local politicians were given a free hand in choosing the presidential aspirant to support.

The party was split between supporting President Arroyo and the leading opposition candidate, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.. Lakas wanted a coalition, but NPC didn’t comply.

“We’re all out for Senator Loren [Legarda], there is no question about that. But as far as going for a bigger coalition, we will have to hear the sentiments of our members,” Duavit said.

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