Byline: BEN R. ROSARIO
Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. revealed yesterday that a huge influx of local government executives as new members of Lakas-CMD has further strengthened the ruling party, adding to expectations of victory for administration-backed candidates from senators down to councilors.
De Venecia aired this statement after swearing in 12 governors and dozens of local executives as the latest recruits of the party that heads the ruling political coalition.
The Lakas-CMD leadership is so confident of its candidates winning in the May polls that party executive director Ray Roquero said that, unlike its senatorial slate, it might not enter into compromise agreements with other political groups for local races.
The entry of "prize catches" to the Lakas-CMD fold triggered the high level of confidence of its leaders.
Among those added to the "already formidable political network" of the Lakas- led ruling coalition were Governor Luis Raymond Villafuerte of Camarines Sur; Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar; Miguel Rene Dominges of Sarangani and Benjamin Loong of Sulu.
Also sworn in as new Lakas-CMD members were Governors Arnan Panaligan (Oriental Mindoro); Borromeo Melchor (Benguet); Glen Prudenciano (Ifugao); Dominador Belac (Kalinga); Maximo Dalog (Mt. Province); Rogelio Espina (Biliran); Jericho Petilla (Leyte), and Bimbo Sinsuat of the newly-created province of Shariff Kabunsuan.
De Venecia also swore in Vice Gov. Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato.
"With the inclusion of more local chief executives to our fold now and in the days ahead, the ruling coalition led by Lakas-CMD will continue to reinforce its status as the largest and most dominant political party in the country in terms of machinery and resources," De Venecia said.
He said only the Lakas-led ruling coalition is capable of fielding a complete ticket from the national to the local levels, including candidates for seats in city and municipal councils, in the May balloting.
"This political machinery and a platform anchored on the solid peformance of the government under President Arroyo will ensure the landslide victory of its senatorial slate come May 14," De Venecia added.
Joining Lakas-CMD in forming a "powerhouse ticket" for the Senate race are its coalition partners - Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino, Nationalist People's Coalition, the Liberal Party under Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas.
De Venecia disclosed that the names of the first batch of senatorial hopefuls will be announced within the week.
Leader of move to abolish Senate running for senator
By BEN R. ROSARIO
A Charter reform proponent behind last year's high profile but failed campaign to abolish the Senate and introduce a parliamentary system of government is joining the senatorial race.
In a surprise move yesterday, lawyer Raul Lambino, a key figure in the People's Initiative bid to amend the 1987 Constitution, has been tapped by the newly-formed Unity for National Advancement of the Philippines (UNLAD Pilipinas) to run for senator.
Lambino, spokesman for the Sigaw ng Bayan that sponsored the PI campaign, said that despite his decision to join the senatorial contest, he and his supporters have not abandoned the campaign to amend the 1987 Constitution and seek the abolition of both Senate and House of Representatives in a move to shift to a parliamentary system of government. …