Manoling Ortega

Aquino or Villar? NPC may soon have to choose–Sotto

Aquino or Villar? NPC may soon have to choose–Sotto
No more fence-sitting

By Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Stalwarts of the Nationalist People’s Coalition may soon be forced to choose a presidential candidate to support due to the clamor among members who are either for Benigno Aquino III, Liberal Party candidate or Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

Lone NPC senatorial candidate Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said the party had remained neutral up to this point following orders from its chair emeritus Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco.

Sotto noted that many NPC members were becoming restless because they were not allowed to openly support any presidential bet.

NPC members split

“But the neutrality could change in favor of a candidate once Danding gets back from Australia, maybe by the end of the week,” Sotto said in a telephone interview.

“Only a meeting of the national executive committee will determine whether we should support a presidential candidate,” he added. “As it is, there is a group within the NPC that wants to support Noynoy. There is another group that is pro-Villar.”

Sotto said party members expected the NPC to be the next target of recruitment efforts especially by the NP since NPC Sen. Loren Legarda is the running mate of Villar.

Raids won’t work

“We expect that once they’re done raiding Lakas-Kampi, we could be next because the NPC can provide the tilting balance that would favor a presidential candidate,” he said. “Remember that next to the administration’s Lakas-Kampi, we are the second biggest party in terms of local bets which is a factor essential to victory.”

Sotto, former chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board, said the NPC fielded 105 candidates in the 230 congressional districts all over the country.

It also had candidates in “more than 50 percent” of the 1,634 mayoralty and 80 gubernatorial slots nationwide.

Sotto expressed confidence that efforts to raid NPC would not succeed.

“We take good care of our members. That’s the difference between NPC and Lakas. We are confident that no one among us will bolt. But it would not be surprising if we are the next target. That’s why we need to address the [polarization] stemming from [conflicts] in the choice of which presidential candidate to support,” he explained.

Sotto said there were local NPC candidates who had entered into coalitions with the NP like Gov. Faustino Dy of Isabela and Gov. Manoling Ortega of La Union.

“The executive committee needs to thresh out these coalitions that local bets are entering into with the NP. Of course, these are local alliances. Once we choose a presidential candidate, the whole party would have to support him,” he said.