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NPC: All options for 2016 still open

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) has not committed to support any presidential candidate despite its members’ separate meetings last Tuesday with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Sen. Grace Poe.

“We are just in the process of consultations. All options for 2016 are still open,” Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, NPC spokesman, told ABS-CBN News Channel.

Gatchalian said aside from Roxas, the administration presidential candidate, and Poe, who is still coy about her presidential plans, their field of choice includes another declared candidate, Vice President Jejomar Binay.

He said Binay’s principal NPC supporter is former Pangasinan congressman Mark Cojuangco, a cousin of President Aquino and son of business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., the party’s founder and chairman emeritus.

“Mark Cojuangco would like to speak to the party and present his case on why NPC should support his candidate. But several members have expressed reservations because of the corruption allegations against the Vice President,” he said.

The Cojuangco son is running for governor of Pangasinan in 2016. Another son, Charlie, a former Negros Occidental congressman, is reportedly eyeing a congressional comeback, either in the Visayas or in Tarlac.

The elder Cojuangco founded NPC in 1992 as a vehicle for his unsuccessful presidential run.

Gatchalian made the statement about his party still searching for a presidential candidate a day after Roxas and Poe separately met with NPC members.

On Tuesday, Roxas discussed his plans and platform of government with 11 NPC congressmen led by the party’s secretary general, Batangas Rep. Mark Mendoza.

In the evening, Poe and Sen. Francis Escudero attended what Gatchalian described as the party’s “social event” at a Cojuangco mansion in New Manila, Quezon City.

The Cojuangco party supported then Sen. Benigno Aquino III in the 2010 presidential elections.

Gatchalian said their party invited Poe, who is not a party member, to “get to know her better.”

“In the case of Sen. Escudero, he is a former member and he frequently attends our socials,” he said.

He said Poe hopped from one table to another to meet and chat with NPC members.

“Everyone was asking if she is running for president, but she said she’s still pondering on it,” he added.

Gatchalian did not say if NPC would invite Roxas, Binay or any other declared presidential candidate to their future social events.

He said the candidate they would support should pursue the governance and economic reforms initiated by the Aquino administration.

He shared the statement earlier made by Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao that many NPC members would opt to support Poe.

“You have to remember that in 2004, her father campaigned for a lot of NPC members,” he said, referring to the late Fernando Poe Jr., who lost the presidency that year to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Former Rizal congressman Jack Duavit, NPC executive vice president, said he and his partymates enjoy freedom of choice on whoever presidential candidate they want to support.

ACIRC BATANGAS REP CANDIDATE COJUANGCO GATCHALIAN MARK COJUANGCO NPC PARTY POE PRESIDENTIAL ROXAS
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