Nograles’ departure from Lakas no big loss – Teodoro
By Jaime Laude
The Philippine Star
CABANATUAN CITY , Philippines – Administration standard-bearer Gilberto Teodoro said Speaker Prospero Nograles’ decision to bolt the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD is no big loss to his presidential bid.
“It will not affect my presidential bid. He is not a big loss to us. Anyway, he has not been that eager to help me ever since,” Teodoro said yesterday.
Nograles confirmed yesterday that he is about to leave the administration Lakas-Kampi because it is “out of control” and in total disarray, “contrary to what is being bandied about in the media.”
Nograles, the party’s vice chairman, however, would not say if he is joining the Nacionalista Party (NP) or going independent, or when he is leaving the ruling party. He is running for mayor of Davao City.
Aside from Nograles, there are other party members who have bolted the party, like Lakas stalwart Mandaluyong Rep. Boyet Gonzales who joined the Liberal Party (LP).
Teodoro said Nograles has never been an ally in his presidential bid because in the first place he has never campaigned for him.
“I’ve been expecting it because I’ve been hearing reports about it since long ago,” Teodoro told reporters during a proclamation rally here.
In a statement, Nograles said he is deserting the ruling party because of so much confusion.
“We are still confused as to what is happening to our party. As a senior party officer, I do not know what’s happening because they make decisions without the courtesy of even briefing us. Now, what’s the use of being with the administration party,” Nograles said.
Two weeks ago, when Lakas-Kampi leaders met to elect their new chairman and president, Nograles said he was not even invited.
“I am a senior party member and a good soldier. I deserve some respect,” he added.
He lamented that what is “even more infuriating” is that seven of his campaign volunteers have died and the administration, particularly police and military officials in Davao City, is not doing anything about it.
Nograles claimed that these officials are under the influence of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a close friend of President Arroyo.
“They are killing our campaign volunteers and there is a clear and present threat on my life by the New People’s Army under Kumander Parago, but I’m not getting any help. It would be better that we do this all by ourselves than expect something that isn’t going to happen,” he said.
He pointed out that being the Lakas-Kampi mayoral candidate in Davao City, he is supposed “to get every help from the administration, even just for the protection of my campaign volunteers, but this cannot happen with the Dutertes controlling the security forces in Davao City.”
The Speaker also assailed the ruling party’s decision to designate Madeline “Bebot” Marfori, Mrs. Arroyo’s assistant for special projects, as its chief campaigner in Davao City.
“She is a supporter of the Dutertes, who are supporting the candidacy of Noynoy (Sen. Benigno Aquino III). Who are they trying to fool? I can only sympathize with Gibo because he is counting on people with interests other than to make him win,” he said.
He also has a complaint against Teodoro, who he said went to Davao City once without even informing him.
Teodoro, for his part, said that despite his closeness with Mayor Duterte, he never solicited his help to support him.
Compostela Valley Gov. Arthur Uy has also bolted the ruling Lakas-Kampi and joined the NP.
“I have resigned from Lakas because of the confusion in the party. I do not understand anymore what is going on in the party,” said Uy, who tendered his resignation last April 8.
Also yesterday, LP campaign manager Florencio Abad disclosed that Lakas member Rizal Gov. Casimiro “Junjun” Ynares has joined the opposition party.
Rep. Gonzales, who is running unopposed in the lone district, took his oath yesterday before LP standard-bearer Aquino at the LP headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.
“It is not easy to leave the party that did nothing wrong to me. But let me say that I am running unopposed and there is no need for me to change parties. But at the bottom of my heart, I am rooting for Noynoy and Sen. Mar Roxas,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, administration senatorial candidate lawyer Raul Lambino said the defection of party members only showed the true colors of these politicians, whom he described as traditional politicians who have no loyalty to the party but their own vested interests.
Meanwhile, former Surigao representative and Lakas senatorial campaign manager Prospero Pichay said they respect Nograles’ decision to leave.
“As a whole, the party remains steadfast behind the candidacies of Teodoro, Edu Manzano and our senatorial slate,” he said.
“The party owes a lot to Speaker Nograles. He is a good friend, former colleague and fellow Mindanaoan, so I am personally saddened by his decision.”
Palace to stem possible breakup
Malacañang moved yesterday to prevent a possible breakup of Lakas-Kampi following Speaker Nograles’ and other key allies in Congress’ decision to bolt the party.
Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said the administration was concerned over the reports because it would adversely affect the campaign of Teodoro, who is struggling in pre-election surveys with the elections less than a month away.
“Definitely, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD should do something about this (major defection). You know this is not the time for a major political party to break up just like that,” Mendoza told reporters at the Centennial Terminal after sending off President Arroyo.
“Not this time especially when the elections is less than a month away,” he said. “For the party, it should be a cause for concern.”
He said the hardest hit would be Teodoro and the rest of the ruling party’s national candidates, Manzano and the six senatorial candidates.
Mendoza said he has not talked with Mrs. Arroyo about the development.
Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said Lakas-Kampi and Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa have their “work cut out for them in terms of keeping the party together and solid and effective in the campaign.”
“We continue to believe that Teodoro is the best man for the job and we continue to believe that he deserves the wholehearted support of his party mates,” Olivar told a news briefing.
He said it was not yet clear whether the President, who is president emeritus of the party, would intervene as she remains focused on governance.
“As a practical matter, she intervenes only on what we can call presidential moments or presidential occasions when the President needs to intervene in party issues,” he said.
Dimaporos for Gibo
Meanwhile, in Lanao del Norte, the powerful and influential Dimaporo clan in the province vowed to support Teodoro’s presidential bid.
During a rally, Lanao del Norte second district Rep. Abdullah “Bobby” Dimaporo said he and his family decided to stick it out with Teodoro because he is the best among the presidential bets in the country today.
Meanwhile, the Nacionalista Party welcomed yesterday reports that Nograles and at least 30 congressmen are joining the NP camp.
NP senatorial candidate and spokesman Gilbert Remulla said Nograles and his allies’ move “may be the most viable option” for them because Davao Mayor Duterte – known political enemy of Nograles – has openly supported the presidential bid of LP’s Aquino.
Even without official confirmation from the NP camp, Nograles’ move is forthcoming because Villar and his partymates have been going to Davao a number of times, purportedly to get local support.
The NP now enjoys the support of Davao del Sur first district Rep. Douglas Cagas. The NP is also preparing to stage a Rockatropa-Wowowillie-cum-political rally this coming week.
Another NP senatorial bet, Adel Tamano, said the big possibility that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will approve coalition of the NP and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and award it the dominant minority status could be major reasons why most local candidates are shifting alliances to the NP.
“The possible reason why other groups might want to join the NP is because of the NP-NPC coalition. Since this has already been given legal status, we’re just a step away from being declared the dominant minority party,” Tamano said.
According to Tamano, the declaration of dominant minority party under the Fair Elections Act would allow the party to get a copy of the election returns and an individual server.
National candidates can monitor and guard their votes by gaining immediate access to certificates of canvass at the provincial, municipal and city levels.
“For the local candidates, the ERs are very, very important. But once the NP-NPC coalition gets the dominant minority status, that is an additional incentive why local parties will want to join us,” Tamano said. – With Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Perseus Echeminada, Edith Regalado, Jun Elias, Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez