Arroyo to push Lakas-Kampi merger–exec
MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will press for a merger between two major political parties in the administration coalition to ensure victory in the May 2010 elections, her political adviser said Wednesday.
The President will make the pitch for a merger between the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Partner of the Free Filipino, Kampi) when she addresses an executive committee meeting of Lakas in her home province of Pampanga on Thursday, Secretary Gabriel Claudio said.
Arroyo founded Kampi in 1998, when she initially intended to run for President, but slid down to vice president in support of then Lakas presidential candidate Jose de Venecia Jr. She is also the chairman emeritus of Lakas, which served as the vehicle for the 1992 election victory of former president Fidel Ramos.
“She is also expected to give broad directions for strengthening the party in the context of the proposed merger with Kampi, in preparation for the 2010 elections,” Claudio said in a text message.
“The administration’s victory can be better ensured by a unified political organization, fielding and supporting the same line-up of candidates at all levels,” he added.
Arroyo first called for a merger between Lakas and Kampi in early 2008, as she moved to consolidate support for her in the wake of allegations that she and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo benefited from the alleged overprice of the government’s $329-million contract for the botched national broadband network project.
But both sides were cool to the proposal and the merger failed to move forward. Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, the Lakas secretary-general, said that the merger was “on hold” due to infighting at Kampi.
Aside from the merger with Kampi, the Lakas executive committee will also discuss “exploring alliances with other parties” and mechanisms for the selection of candidates, said Claudio, also senior deputy secretary-general of the party.
Last week, Ramos said the administration coalition was looking at six or seven possible presidential contenders.
Asked about Ramos’ statement, Claudio said: “I’d rather not mention names. Among the things to be discussed tomorrow [Thursday] is whether the presidential candidate of the party has to be a Lakas member or not.”
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