Kampi not dead, may back bets in 2004
- Jaime Laude () - January 5, 2003 - 12:00am
Kampi, President Arroyo’s original political party, vowed yesterday full support for her administration even as it mulls backing certain candidates in next year’s elections following her decision not to seek a full six-year term.

Leaders of Kampi, the party under which the President ran for vice president in 1998, are set to convene an executive caucus to reassess their plans and positions in the light of her announcement that she will not run in next year’s presidential polls.

"It is the belief of party members that while the party is fully supportive of President Arroyo and would have mobilized to ensure her victory in the 2004 election, her being President is not the end all and be all of the party," Kampi founding chairman Jose "Peping" Cojuangco said.

Among those expected to attend the meeting are Mrs. Arroyo’s former chief publicist Dante Ang who is president of the party, former Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing, former Finance Secretary Edgardo Espiritu and former Interior and Local Government Secretary Luis Santos.

Kampi was organized in 1997 to boost then Senator Arroyo’s presidential bid, but she settled later for the vice presidency after the party coalesced with the ruling Lakas-NUCD that had Speaker Jose de Venecia as its standard bearer.

At a press conference yesterday at the Cojuangco residence in Dasmariñas Village, in Makati City, Kampi chairwoman Margarita "Tingting" Cojuangco declared that the party will continue supporting Mrs. Arroyo’s leadership even as it pursues its own goals for strong democratic processes in the country.

"Her not running (in next year’s elections) will not end Kampi’s political career," she said.

Kampi secretary general former Rizal Rep. Emigdio Tanjuatco lauded Mrs. Arroyo’s decision that stunned the nation and disarmed the political opposition, saying it was a laudable move and a sacrifice.

Tanjuatco dismissed as "knee jerk reactions" complaints by certain allies of the President that they were left in the dark when she made her decision.

"At first, we at Kampi were surprised as we were not consulted, but after the hows and wherefores, we took the President’s words at face value. I am convinced that she did it for a cause," Tanjuatco said.

He added that Kampi will continue to exist and will even mobilize its own machinery to field or support certain candidates who will adhere to the party’s democratic principles.

Tanjuatco pointed out that Kampi was principally formed to espouse the restoration and strengthening of the democratic system in the country.

Peping Cojuangco, a former Tarlac congressman, also batted for amendments to the Constitution to pave the way for the country’s shift to the parliamentary form of government.

He said with the President’s announcement that she will not run next year, it’s about time for the lawmakers to push the much-delayed constitutional change.

"The timing is right. With the President no longer interested in seeking the highest public office in 2004, there’s no more obstacle for the constitutional amendment," Cojuangco noted.
JDV: Gov’t of national unity to unite parties
Meanwhile, De Venecia said the "government of national unity" would serve as a vehicle to bring together the various political parties and the civil societies for concerted efforts at solving the country’s most urgent problems.

The Speaker noted that currently, there is a strong momentum toward the formation of the "government of national unity."

He hailed Mrs. Arroyo’s decision to create an oversight committee tasked to thresh out the implementing guidelines pertaining the unity government.

In a statement, De Venecia said Mrs. Arroyo is in the best position to lead the multi-party structure of the government of national unity because she is the "president of the people."

"The unity government could be in place within 45 to 60 days," he added.

In another development, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers appealed to his colleagues in the administration party to heed Mrs. Arroyo’s call for a truce in partisan politics and buckle down to work to help push the country toward economic progress.

Barbers said continuing press statements by some politicians identified with the Arroyo administration about possible team ups and bets in next year’s polls "are not doing the country any good."

"It is incumbent upon every member of this administration to support the call of the President, no ifs or buts. If you belong to this administration, then you must toe the line and support the President," Barbers said in a statement.

He also urged Congress leaders to fast track much-needed bills, and vowed to monitor implementation passed measures meant for economic recovery, eradicate graft and corruption, fight illegal drugs and mass poverty.

"Let us serve them well and lead by example so that they will be correctly guided on the kind and quality of leaders that they must elect for their own good," Barbers said.

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