Major party-list groups join Lakas
- Delon Porcalla () - February 8, 2007 - 12:00am
Seven party-list organizations signed yesterday a covenant with the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats to strengthen the ruling party’s dominance over the political landscape and ensure free and orderly elections.

Lakas-CMD president Jose de Venecia called the new covenant a major step in the "continuing national struggle for collective economic rights and for individual civil and political liberties."

In a statement, De Venecia said these party-list groups have a "combined membership of 14 million and a known voting strength of seven million, making the new alliance a formidable force at the local and national levels in the May 14 elections."

Signing the covenant with party-list groups with De Venecia were Eastern Samar Rep. Marcelino Libanan, who is Lakas’ acting secretary-general, and Lakas-CMD executive director Ray Roquero.

The representatives and members who signed the "Covenant of Common Purpose and United Action" were Reps. Ernesto Pablo, Edgar Valdez and Sunny Madamba of APEC (Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives); Rep. Leonila Chavez of Butil Farmers Party; Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay of AVE (Alliance of Volunteer Educators); Rep. Estrella de Leon Santos of VFP (Veterans Freedom Party); Rep. Guillermo Cua of COOP-NATCCO (Coop-National Confederation of Cooperatives); Rep. Acmad Tomawis of ALIF (Ang Laban ng Indigenong Filipino); and Rep. Rodante Marcoleta of Alagad.

"This marked the third time in two weeks that Lakas-CMD has either gained new members or forged new alliances in a sustained campaign to advance the party’s wide-ranging reform agenda and ensure victory for administration candidates," De Venecia said.

"Overall, we remain committed to centrist politics, a free market, a free press and free elections, the ideals of Christian-Muslim ideology and democracy and the environmental requirements of our dear Planet Earth," the signatory parties declared in their covenant.

They pledged to "lend mutual support" to each party in order to ensure collective victory for their candidates in the coming elections and agreed to create a coordinating committee to build mechanisms for mutual support for their political and legislative advocacies.

In the biggest Lakas-CMD coup so far this year, 12 governors took their oaths two weeks ago as new ruling coalition members before De Venecia, adding muscle to the party’s machinery and giving Lakas control of majority of the country’s provinces.

Nineteen lawmakers belonging to Manila Mayor Lito Atienza’s faction of the Liberal Party (LP) also declared a partnership with Lakas-CMD, with Atienza signing the agreement with De Venecia last week.

De Venecia said Lakas-CMD is pursuing more alliances in an effort to broaden support for the party’s vision of political, economic and social reforms to propel the Philippines from a third-world society to a second-world society in 15 years.

Lakas and the covenant signatories said they will campaign for the passage of a campaign finance reform law and state subsidy for mainstream political parties to reduce money politics and corruption and to stand against the criminal influence of drug syndicates and illegal gambling lords.

De Venecia said the alliance will support other measures to ensure that political parties "are built around platforms and programs that develop the state and ensure the integrity of the ballot."

"We commit to be partners in championing the respective causes of our parties and party-list organizations in the legislature, in the government, in the ranks of civil society and the programs for reforms initiated by President Arroyo and the House of Representatives in alliance with our local government units," the parties said.

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