MANILA, Philippines – Two politicians identified with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are joining Vice President Jejomar Binay’s political party.
Zambales Rep Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay and Cebu Gov Gwen Garcia are joining Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). This paves the way for their inclusion in Binay’s senatorial slate under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Magsaysay and Garcia will take their oath as PDP-Laban members on Friday, May 25.
Binay, the party chairman, will attend the oath-taking while President Benigno Aquino III’s uncle, PDP-Laban secretary-general Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. will administer the oath. (Read: PNoy uncle supports Erap-Binay coalition)
The event will be held at Cojuangco’s office in Makati.
In a phone interview, PDP-Laban executive director and UNA spokesperson JV Bautista told Rappler that Magsaysay and Garcia’s oath-taking assures them of slots in UNA’s senatorial slate.
“It will only be a formality. We will make a formal announcement next week on the new UNA official candidates.”
UNA is a coalition between PDP-Laban and former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) for the 2013 polls. (For more on UNA, read our special reports: Binay and the Politics of Firsts, and UNA vs LP: What’s the difference?)
Mitos leaving Lakas, Garcia bolting NUP
Bautista said Magsaysay’s inclusion in PDP-Laban means she will be leaving Arroyo’s political party, Lakas-CMD.
Magsaysay has been a staunch Arroyo defender while Garcia was also a key ally of the former President in vote-rich Cebu.
Magsaysay has long expressed her intention to join PDP-Laban. “She reached an agreement with the Vice President months ago and she has been travelling with him in sorties. They were together in Nueva Ecija,” said Bautista.
Bautista, however, said Garcia is not required to resign from her One Cebu Party because it is a local party that can align with UNA. Binay invited Garcia to join PDP-Laban.
Garcia told ANC she was a part of the National Union Party (NUP), which includes former members of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD. Garcia said she already informed NUP leaders about her decision.
The governor said she is seriously considering running for senator.
“I do believe that by my running for senator, I shall be able to give a much better representation, not only for Cebu but for Visayas and Mindanao. And I also believe that what I have been able to learn in all these years as governor would be a big factor that would help me craft national policy.”
UNA to announce more bets next week
So far, UNA has announced only 5 official senatorial candidates:
- Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III (PDP-Laban president)
- Joey de Venecia (PDP-Laban executive vice president)
- Cagayan Rep Juan Ponce “Jackie” Enrile Jr.
- San Juan Rep Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito (PMP)
- Sen Gregorio Honasan
Bautista said UNA’s national executive committee will meet next week to finalize additional names for the senatorial slate.
The executive committee is composed of Binay, Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The group was supposed to meet on Friday, May 25, but Bautista said it had to postpone the meeting because of the impeachment trial, where Enrile is presiding officer.
Mitos vs Gordon?
Also being eyed as an UNA senatorial bet is former Sen Richard Gordon, whose family is a bitter rival of the Magsaysays in Zambales.
Bautista downplayed a possible conflict arising from their inclusion in the same slate.
“The politics of the Gordons and the Magsaysays in Zambales is not that harmonious. But whatever differences they have will be subsumed under the necessity to run in a unified slate,” said Bautista.
UNA is also trying to resolve the rift between Pimentel and resigned Sen Juan Miguel Zubiri, who were rivals in the 2007 senatorial polls. – Rappler.com