Lakas execs to meet for ‘final reckoning’
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Fe Zamora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Amid threats of possible defections, officials of the administration’s once proud Lakas-Kampi-CMD coalition are meeting on Tuesday for what a party executive called “a final reckoning.”
The calling of the meeting coincided with emphatic denials Sunday from administration standard-bearer Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. that he was quitting the presidential race.
The meeting will discuss whether the party could provide financial and logistical support to its members in the local elections and head off any plan by some of them to switch loyalties.
“It will be our final reckoning: Do we have the resources to support our local candidates not only in terms of funding but also in providing poll watchers and sample ballots on election day?” Lakas-Kampi deputy executive director Reginald Velasco said in a phone interview.
“Our claim to fame is our local machinery and without it, we will lose,” Velasco added.
The executive committee meeting will be held at Linden Suites Hotel in Ortigas Center in Pasig City at noon. Expected to be present are the newly designated officers who replaced Teodoro and two other party stalwarts, who resigned their party posts before the Easter holidays.
No money problems
But this early, new Lakas-Kampi-CMD chair and Deputy Speaker Ma. Amelita C. Villarosa gave assurances that the country’s dominant party had enough funds to meet the demands of its 12,900 members running for local posts, from governor to councilor.
Villarosa said the party’s main concern was how to merge national and local campaign operations, especially the scheduling of campaign sorties.
“We have over 12,900 party bets, who comprise about two-thirds of those running for local posts,” she said.
Velasco said the Lakas-Kampi-CMD leaders had only recently realized the difficulties in handling a mammoth organization considering that the party had doubled in size since the 2007 elections.
“All of them want the national candidate to visit their places so it’s hard to have Teodoro and the rest of his ticket present in all areas,” he said.
Another key issue to be tackled is the supposed disinformation campaign being carried out by other parties to undermine Lakas-Kampi-CMD.
This included reports of Teodoro quitting the race and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo supposedly working on some members to switch their allegiance to Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar.
“The leadership will also have to act decisively as a party in putting an end to the disinformation campaign clearly aimed at undermining party unity. We start by asking all members to stand solid behind Gibo’s presidential bid and the rest of the team,” Villarosa said.
Velasco said that contrary to the “black propaganda” by text messages that Teodoro was quitting the race, the former defense secretary had scheduled campaign sorties Monday in Albay and Cavite, and Tuesday in Camarines Sur.
In a text message, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said: “Despite the maelstrom in our national party, as a loyal foot soldier, I continue to plod on. The order of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to make Gibo win in Albay like she did in 2004. I see no fundamental reason not to obey the order.”
Teodoro squelched talk that he was backing out of the race.
“Such rumors are originating from sectors who will cast aside all notions of decency to satiate their salivation and hunger for power through the presidency,” he said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, such is commonplace in Philippine politics, which reinforces my determination to make a stand, to continue the fight. I will settle for no less than victory, our people deserve no less.”
One text message urged recipients to pray that Teodoro “will have his ‘Road to Damascus’ moment—that he will finally see the light that Villar is the Arroyos’ real bet, and that he will have enough courage and self-respect to denounce the Villaroyo unholy alliance in the open.”
The Road to Damascus moment refers to someone’s great and sudden change of beliefs, similar to the conversion of Saint Paul to Christianity while heading for Damascus to persecute Christians.
On Easter Sunday, another text message circulated claiming that Teodoro was to make a “major” statement on Monday denouncing purported betrayals of him by his own party’s leaders.
“It’s black propaganda,” Teodoro’s PR consultant, Dante Ang, told the Inquirer.
Last week, Teodoro quit as chair of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD. Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez and Francis Manglapus also resigned as president and secretary general, respectively. With a report from Christian V. Esguerra