Defections not as bad as expected–Lakas
By Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—No need to press the panic button, the chief recruitment officer of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD declared Thursday, as he noted that only two percent of the candidates fielded by the party nationwide had defected to other camps.
“We are not really that alarmed,” said Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Lakas-Kampi vice president for recruitment and membership in downplaying the apparent bleeding of the administration party.
“We were expecting a fatality rate of around 10 percent at this point of the campaign,” he added, suggesting that the party could well manage a two-percent attrition rate.
Pichay said that since its candidates were contesting 75 percent of local elected positions nationwide, Lakas-Kampi “remains the dominant party as of now.”
Pichay was moving to present a brave front after the successive departures from the ruling party of stalwarts including Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri, Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales Jr., former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson and most recently, Albay Gov. Jose “Joey” Salceda.
Speaker Prospero Nograles, another ranking Lakas-Kampi member, is at loggerheads with party standard-bearer Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, triggering speculations that he will also leave shortly.
“The perception is that many are leaving but the command votes (that come) with those who did are not really that much,” Pichay said.
He explained to reporters how he arrived at the two-percent figure: “Out of the candidates in that 75 percent, only four so far have defected. If we’re talking about their districts, that’s only 150,000 to 200,000 votes.”
Pichay said a meeting of the remaining Lakas-Kampi members would be called but failed to give its date.
“We’re going to call (for) a meeting (where members would be) asked to renew their loyalty to the party. I’m sure (the President) is sad about (the defections) but she will always respect any decision to stay or to go. We are a democratic country and we have a democratic party,” he said.
Pichay also said that he did not believe the defections were harmful to Teodoro’s candidacy.
Since the two leading presidential candidates, Senators Benigno Aquino III and Manuel Villar, were now “engaged in mudslinging,” Pichay said, it was possible that voters would become disenchanted, pushing them to switch to Teodoro.
“They (Aquino and Villar) are throwing mud at each other. I think Gibo’s rating would still go up while that of his opponents have already peaked and could go down in the remaining weeks,” Pichay said.