Lakas revives merger with LDP

- Delon Porcalla -
The ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) will rejoin forces with the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) in the attempt to ensure the victory of the administration Team Unity in the May 14 elections.

The merger will revive the coalition between the two biggest political parties since May 1995.

Lakas president Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. and LDP president Sen. Edgardo Angara signed yesterday the "strategic partnership" to share a "common platform and legislative agenda."

"Our cooperation (with Lakas) in 1995 was probably the most productive in history," Angara told reporters in a briefing at the residence of De Venecia at South Forbes Park in Makati City.

"We have shown that with cooperation, we can move forward," he said.

While Angara sees the partnership going "stronger," he was pragmatic enough to predict an 8-4 vote in Team Unity’s favor, or 7-5 at the least.

In May 1995, the Lakas-LDP merger made a 10-2 near-sweep at the Senate.

"This is an advocacy of Angara and myself," De Venecia added.

De Venecia, who is also seeking re-election in the fourth congressional district of Pangasinan, said Lakas comprises more than 60 percent of all elective positions in the country.

LDP, on the other hand, enjoys a vast political machinery with the most extensive national network.

"Our advantage is organizational muscle and clout. I think that is our strength. And there is vote delivery system unlike in the opposition, where they are campaigning individually," Angara stressed.

De Venecia, Angara and Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio, along with Lakas-CMD and LDP stalwarts, reiterated the renewed Lakas-LDP partnership and other parties allied with the administration coalition, will implement the "equity of the incumbent" policy.

This means the administration party will endorse incumbent local officials who are members of the ruling coalition that also include the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), and the Liberal Party (LP) faction of Manila Mayor Lito Atienza.

Angara said the LDP remains the "most dominant minority party," since 1992.

This means the LDP is still entitled to a copy of election returns from the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Lakas, being the ruling party, is entitled to an original copy of the returns.

Angara explained the opposition cannot have a copy of the returns under the elections laws.

He said GO should have met the criteria of having a national organization like Lakas and LDP.

"We have provincial and local chapters. Since 1992, LDP has been the most dominant minority party. We don’t intend to yield that position. We are 95 percent organized in towns and provinces. We are entitled to that position," Angara said.

And if it may be of any consolation to the opposition, Angara pointed out GO can still be entitled to the ERs, but only the certified true copies or the original duplicates but not the originals.

"They (GO party) must prove that they can comply with these criteria. That’s their own doing. The two leading parties (Lakas and LDP) have been in existence since 1992," Angara said.

De Venecia also announced the Standing Committee of Asia’s Political Parties has approved his proposal for state subsidy for political parties in Asia.

De Venecia said the proposal aims to reduce corruption, money politics and intervention by drug and gambling lords in national and local elections.

According to De Venecia, his proposal was supported by former Thai Prime Minister Chaiyasan, the president of the ruling Liberal Party of Australia Chris Mcdiven, and by the Secretary General of the Pakistani Muslim League Mushahid Sayen.

He said the proposal has been endorsed for plenary discussion in the general assembly of International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in Islamabad, Pakistan next year.

The same proposal was approved by the House of Representatives in an effort to prevent criminal syndicates and dirty money pouring into political affairs.

"The state subsidy for political parties does not totally eliminate corruption. But it significantly reduces it because candidates are not bound by oligarchic interests," De Venecia said.

The House leader said governments in Europe, the United States, Japan, Australia and Canada, are giving government subsidies to political parties to curb political corruption.

At the same time, De Venecia pushed for more elective and appointive positions in government for Asian women leaders.

"We need to mobilize their idealistic spirit and strong family values in government and in politics," De Venecia said.

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