JDV lawyer against Lakas-Kampi union now on its Senate slate

JDV lawyer against Lakas-Kampi union now on its Senate slate
By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—How did former Speaker Jose de Venecia’s personal lawyer end up running for senator in the slate of the administration party?

De Venecia himself was baffled, said lawyer Raul Lambino, when the latter decided to run for senator under Lakas-Kampi-CMD, whose merger De Venecia and Lambino, had questioned before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“They were surprised. They called me up, asking, ‘What happened to you? Why did you run?’” said Lambino, recalling a phone call from De Venecia and his wife Gina.

De Venecia had parted ways with the Arroyo administration in February 2008 after his son Joey exposed the $329-million National Broadband Network-ZTE Corp. deal that would have purportedly benefited First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and other government officials with huge kickbacks.

He later resigned as Lakas president and questioned the merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi, the party of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. His lawyer then was Lambino.

The Comelec, and later, the Supreme Court upheld the merger.

Last-minute replacement

Later, Lambino supported Lakas’ merger with Kampi and the coalition’s choice of former Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro as its standard-bearer.

Lambino said he was prodded by Lakas-Kampi-CMD officials to file his certificate of candidacy close to midnight of Dec. 1, the last filing day, as a last-minute replacement for businessman Jesus Arraza who backed out of the Senate race.

Lambino said he believed Teodoro was the best candidate to lead the country.

Coaxed Teodoro to join Lakas

“As one of the old guards of the party, I know that if we’re not able to choose a good presidential candidate and we lose this election, then Lakas would be ending as a party,” he said in an interview during a campaign sortie.

Unknown to many, Lambino said, it was he and party-mate Francis Manglapus who coaxed Teodoro to join Lakas-Kampi-CMD. He also initiated the “Teodoro for President” movement on Facebook.

“When the former Speaker started questioning the legality of the merger, I told him I couldn’t join him on the issue because I was one of those responsible for convincing Gibo to join Lakas and run for president,” said Lambino.

For Teodoro, Lambino was a godsend.

“He initiated the ‘Teodoro for President’ movement,” said the presidential candidate when asked how Lambino ended up on his slate.

But Lambino hoped he didn’t burn his bridges with De Venecia.

“I believe we’re still good friends,” he said, adding that he had turned up at Gina de Venecia’s birthday party in February in their Makati City home.

De Venecia’s chief of staff Noel Albano was in charge of Lakas-Kampi’ media operations at the start of the national campaign period on Feb. 9. He could not be reached for comment for this story.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.