LAKAS-KAMPI-CMD BARES LIST OF INTERIM NATIONAL OFFICERS

The so-called “powerhouse” Lakas-Kampi-CMD announced yesterday the officers of its national executive committee, in preparation for the May 2010 presidential elections.

Quezon City Mayor Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, who was designated senior vice president for external affairs, said the interim appointments of the national officers will take effect immediately, and will be effective three months until after the 2010 polls.

“Together, they represent some of the best leaders of both former Lakas-CMD and Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino) – now merged into a political powerhouse,” he told newsmen at a news conference.

President Arroyo is the ruling party’s chairperson while former President Fidel Ramos is chairman emeritus.

Speaker Prospero Nograles and Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno were both designated as vice chairmen, while Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was appointed as the party’s president.

“Under the leadership of these senior members, the party is in excellent hands – and will henceforth move firmly forward, propelled by its founding ideals and principles and the vision for the Filipino people that it strives to achieve,” added Belmonte.

Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia was designated senior vice president for internal affairs, neophyte Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez was appointed senior vice president for finance, while presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio will sit as secretary general.

Treasurer is House Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar while there are four senior deputy secretaries general – Reps. Jose Solis of Sorsogon, Danilo Suarez of Quezon, Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan.

Deputy treasurer is Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo while Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando – who has been offering himself as the party’s presidential candidate – was designated vice president for the National Capital Region.

The vice presidents for Luzon are Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan; for Visayas, Reps. Arthur Defensor of Iloilo and Nerissa Ruiz of Cebu; for Mindanao, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri and Rep. Francisco Matugas of Surigao del Norte.

Former Justice secretary and now Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez is vice president for legal affairs, former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay (now Local Water Utilities Administration chairman) was appointed vice president for membership and recruitment.

Pichay said the unification of Lakas-CMD and Kampi was a welcome development for the administration, since the merger can now address the problems they had in the 2007 senatorial elections.

“In the last elections, the candidates of Lakas and Kampi were fighting, so the senatoriables were ignored. This merger will solve that problem so that we’ll have no problems anymore,” said Pichay, a defeated senatorial candidate in the 2007 elections.

Deputy secretaries general Ray Roquero and Reggie Velasco said the arbitration committee would most likely be headed by Pichay, who said the arbitration process might take a few months, just in time for the filing of certificates of candidacy in November.

Pichay told The STAR that they would again be observing the “equity of the incumbent” policy in the grassroots level, but pointed out the declaration of “free zones” would be inevitable, but only in worst cases, where all local officials are members of the merged party.

Ermita said he would immediately work to further strengthen the Lakas-Kampi-CMD by consolidating its grassroots network and reinforcing its links with international groups like the Europe-based Christian Democrats International.

He assured party members that the national leadership would listen to the grassroots members, who actually are the source of strength of the party.

The arbitration committee would resolve differences among local party members who may be vying for the same post, he said.

Ermita also disclosed that some party members have been separately meeting in private with Vice President Noli de Castro and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. to help them decide whom to support as standard-bearer of the administration.

Bayani-Zubiri rift worsens

The quarrel between Lakas leaders Sen. Zubiri and MMDA chairman Fernando worsened after the MMDA chief dared the senator to attend first to his personal problems.

“I suggest he attends to his personal problems. He is the subject of a protest pending before the Senate Electoral Tribunal. Maybe he should make sure he wins it. Before then, he should shut up,” Fernando said in a statement.

Zubiri called Fernando a dictator for the continuous demolition of squatter shanties and clearing of sidewalk vendors in the metropolis.

The MMDA chief also brushed aside Zubiri’s statements that he would campaign against Fernando in the coming 2010 elections.

“I need not ask him not to campaign for me. I’ll seek the presidency on a moral high ground. His presence in my campaign might pollute and infect the morality of my campaign. To Mr. Zubiri, thanks but no thanks,” Fernando said.

Fernando had assailed Zubiri for pushing for the candidacies of De Castro and Teodoro as possible standard bearers of the administration party.

Fernando and Zubiri are stalwarts of the old Lakas-CMD while De Castro and Teodoro are not party members but are part of the administration coalition.

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who recently announced that he would no longer run for president, denied that several presidential aspirants want him to be their running mate.

“It’s not true. No one has approached me. Honestly, I do not even know if I’d run for vice president. I’m only sure about rallying my supporters to join me in supporting a candidate with character, integrity and competence,” Lacson said.

Lacson is reportedly being wooed by presidential bets like Senators Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party and Francis Escudero of the Nacionalist People’s Coalition. – With Perseus Echeminada, Dennis Carcamo, Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica

Lacson withdrew from the presidential race, citing funding concerns.

He also said he did not have any strong political party with machinery to back him up and that those who were not getting high ratings in surveys were not likely to get much campaign contributions.

The senator is also facing allegations that he masterminded the killings of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000.

In earlier interviews, both Roxas and Escudero said Lacson would be an asset for any presidential candidate if he would agree to become his or her running mate.

Asked if he and Lacson running for president and vice president respectively would be a “dream team,” Roxas only said that he and Lacson would be talking in the coming days.

“We are together at the Senate and one on many issues, especially on good governance. Like what I said, we will talk at the right time,” Roxas said.

Escudero said it would be quite embarrassing for him to court Lacson now when he had not yet declared his plan to run for president. – With Perseus Echeminada, Dennis Carcamo, Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica. (newsflash.org/philstar)

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