Nation



By Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza, Reporter


NPC supports Poe-Escudero; Duterte goes to MILF camp




Posted on March 01, 2016


INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL candidate and Senator Grace Poe and her running mate and Senate colleague Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero have secured support of the second largest political party.

Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe (L) and her running mate Senator Francis 'Chiz" Escudero raise their arms with their senatorial slate as they launch their campaigns for the May national elections in Manila on February 9, 2016. -- AFP PHOTO / JAY DIRECTO
The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) on Monday announced it will be supporting the candidacies of Ms. Poe and Mr. Escudero.

“We, of the Nationalist People’s Coalition wish to announce that we formally adopt Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares and Sen. Francis Escudero as our candidates for President and Vice-President respectively,” NPC President and Isabela Representative Giorgidi B. Aggabao said in a statement.

“After many months of meetings and consultations amongst its members, the Executive Committee has deemed it appropriate to recognize and adhere to the great majority of its members’ wishes,” Mr. Aggabao added.

The party had planned to announce its candidates earlier, before the election campaign which officially started on Feb. 9.

“Post-tabulation results show the common theme in the selection of these candidates’ clear intention to build on gains rather than simply accept the status quo or signal a return to old practices or hastily and radically subject the nation to a new and unpredictable cycle devoid of continuity,” Mr. Aggabao said.

According to NPC Spokesperson Rep. Mark M. Enverga (Quezon, 1st district), 2,474 incumbent public official are members of the party.

In the previous months, NPC met with Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte of the PDP-Laban, Ms. Poe, and Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II of Liberal Party.

Mr. Aggabao said the party feels that Ms. Poe and Mr. Escudero “represent the best hope for a unified push for sustainable development.”

“In other words, these candidates most embody our party’s manifesto that every Filipino is important and that every Filipino must be served equally well regardless of station or status,” he said.

‘CONFUSION’
However, the ruling Liberal Party said it sees some “confusion” among the NPC members and said it will wait for developments.

“Well, I’ve talked to some of Mar’s supporters from NPC, and they say they had absolutely no knowledge of this ‘endorsement,’” LP Spokesperson and Akbayan Rep. Ibarra “Barry” M. Gutierrez said in a statement on Monday.

“Apparently, there’s some confusion within their ranks,” he said. “It might be similar to what happened in 2010, when the same group in NPC claimed that they ‘endorsed’ Manny Villar, only for the party to formally endorse Noynoy Aquino shortly after.”

Malacañang, for its part, said “the formal endorsement by a political party of a set of candidates should lead to a sharper definition of the party’s stand on vital national issues and a higher level of discourse where the primary focal points of attention are platforms of governance instead of simply personalities.”

“Our Bosses, the Filipino people, stand to benefit from the realization of this ideal scenario,” Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma, Jr. said in a statement on Monday.

The Binay camp also saw fit to respond to this development. “We can’t say for sure that if the party has endorsed someone [whom] totally everyone will follow, especially when it comes to the rivalries of local parties,” UNA Spokesperson and former Rizal Mayor Ramon A. Ilagan said in Filipino.

“In the NPC too are friends, close friends, and companions of VP Binay when he was still the mayor of Makati City. It can’t be said that the NPC is solid even after there is an endorsement for Senator Grace Poe and [Francis] Escudero.”

Ms. Poe welcomed the endorsement when she heard the news while campaigning in Cagayan province on Monday.

“I am absolutely thankful for the trust and support given by the NPC. With me running as an independent candidate, I believe that the NPC will be of great help not only to my candidacy, but most of all, in building a government with a heart that is sought after by every Filipino who has been left behind,” she said.

Political analyst Ramon C. Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said the endorsement is a “major milestone” in Ms. Poe’s candidacy.

“The NPC stands to gain much if [Grace Poe] wins. [She] is currently the front-runner and, if the [Supreme Court] decision is favorable, she may run away from the rest of the pack,” Mr. Casiple told BusinessWorld in a text message Monday afternoon.

He added that the mutual relationship between Ms. Poe and the NPC will be a two-way street for both sides as the political party will then be a major player in forming the ruling coalition if Ms. Poe wins.

MILF, WOMEN’S GROUPS
Meanwhile, in the Duterte front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in its Web site, commended the Davao City Mayor for his visit to the group’s Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao -- where Mr. Duterte met and talked with Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice -chairperson for political affairs, and other MILF leaders.

According to the MILF, Mr. Duterte promised them that “if [his political advocacy of] federalism won’t push through, I will convince Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and that would be the template for federal states.”

Curiously, Mr. Duterte was not joined by his running mate, Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano, whom luwaran.com itself describes as “a staunch critic of the BBL [Bangsamoro Basic Law] who categorized the Moro Front and the Moro people as ‘terrorists.’” The MILF had earlier invited Mr. Cayetano to a dialogue in its occupied areas.

Mr. Duterte has also secured the support of women voters, going by his reception at a recent women’s forum in Davao City, attended by representatives from around Mindanao.

In a statement, Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the Mindanao-wide assembly was aimed at discussing concerns and drafting a women agenda.

“But first we must be able to collectively discuss our situation and issues for us to develop an agenda, and we shall challenge our [presidential] candidate to act on this,” she said.

Ms. Ilagan also emphasized the vital role that women will play in the upcoming national elections.”

“Women are half of the population and could effectively swing the votes,” she said.

Saturday’s assembly also formally launched the ForwaRD Women or Forum of Women for Action with Rodrigo Duterte.

“Rodrigo Duterte is not the perfect man but he is the only candidate who can effectively carry the Women Agenda,” a statement said. -- with additional reports by Alden M. Monzon