Gina de V says she may run, too

Eva Visperas - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Gina de Venecia, wife of former speaker Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr., is seriously considering running for senator in the 2010 elections.

Mrs. De Venecia told The STAR that she has not yet decided on whether to run for the Senate or the House to seek the congressional seat of her husband in Pangasinan’s fourth district. Rep. De Venecia plans to return to the private sector when his last term ends in 2010.

“Manay” Gina said she was urged to run for senator by then President Fidel Ramos and her former friend, President Arroyo, during their happy years together. Mrs. De Venecia said she was not keen about it then but is now giving it serious thought.

“This issue is like a shadow that has been hovering over me and it has been repeatedly asked of me (whether I would run or not),” she said.

She said she and her husband are still discussing it thoroughly on how they could continue serving the people.

“I just entrust everything to God where He might lead me,” said Mrs. De Venecia, a registered voter in San Fabian town, which is under the fourth district of Pangasinan.

She said she might run under Lakas, Nacionalista Party or under former President Joseph Estrada’s ticket. She added she could also run as an independent bet or she might coalesce with other parties.

“But definitely not under Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino, whose leaders initiated the ouster of her husband),” she said.

The De Venecias have not been on good terms with the President since the former speaker was ousted after his son, businessman Jose de Venecia III, exposed the alleged overpricing and bribery in the controversial $329-million national broadband network contract between the government and Chinese firm ZTE Corp. that forced Mrs. Arroyo to cancel the deal.

For the past months, residents of Pangasinan’s fourth district have been wondering why Mrs. De Venecia had been making speeches in gatherings attended by the De Venecia couple.

Mrs. De Venecia usually just sits beside her husband but never speaks to the audience.

Another new development was the announcement last week of Jose III that he also plans to run for congressman and replace his father as fourth district representative.

Lawyer Reddy Balarbar, provincial election officer of Pangasinan, said Jose III is also a registered voter of Dagupan City and last voted there in the 2007 elections.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said the De Venecias should further study their political plans.

“If Gina de Venecia will run, I think she has bigger potentials to be elected congresswoman,” Cruz said.

Cruz said Jose III will have to earn his own credentials in the district and the young De Venecia should start going around the district to meet the people and show his concern.

JDV to stay with Lakas

Former speaker De Venecia also vowed to stay with the ruling Lakas-CMD even if the party he co-founded in 1992 will merge with Kampi.

“Why should I leave Lakas? I am the founder of Lakas, all of them should leave Lakas, mga saling pusa lang ang mga iyan (they are only also-rans). I will not be joining anybody, I am forming a powerful coalition of our own, based on high principles and not the politics of selfish interests,” he said.

De Venecia, however, wants Lakas to have an alliance with the Nacionalista Party of Senate President Manny Villar and the Nationalist People’s Coalition of business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.

He said the Lakas-Kampi merger is “impossible,” which Speaker Prospero Nograles, as Lakas president, and Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronnie Puno, as Kampi chairman, have been pushing since late last year.

De Venecia, Ramos, and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte (Kampi president who has a dispute with Puno) are against the merger of Lakas with Kampi, the second largest political party in the country.

The Pangasinan congressman, who refused to categorically answer if he is indeed retiring from politics in 2010, proposed another “powerful coalition” he dubbed as the Political Party Variation.

“I am proposing a powerful political variation. We should launch our coalition by the first quarter of next year,” he said.

His idea of a new coalition, however, seems nothing new since this is the current setup of the administration coalition in the House of Representatives.

De Venecia’s idea of a new coalition is that Lakas join forces with the NP, NPC and the major party-list groups.

“This is going to be a powerful coalition that will surely elect the next President of the Philippines. Villar is a front-runner because of his successful rags to riches story, which is very credible and real, aside from the fact that he has coalition building skills,” he said.

Noli’s skills doubted

The former speaker also belittled the political future of Vice President Noli de Castro, who he said lacks coalition-building skills, unlike Villar.

“He (De Castro) must first show that he has the ability to be a party man, that he can form a coalition, because coalition is the only formula for a presidential or a parliamentary system where the electorate is fragmented,” he said.

He cited the case of Ramos, who was a minority president because only 23.5 percent of the electorate voted for him, and that of Estrada, who was largely popular but was voted into office in 1998 by only 39 percent of the voting population. – With Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez










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