MANILA, Philippines – The influential Akbar family of Basilan province in Mindanao has bolted Lakas-Kampi-CMD to join President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP).
“The Akbar family will support the Liberal Party in the coming 2013 elections,” Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Akbar told Rappler after her oath-taking in Manila on Friday, July 13.
Cherrylyn is the first among the Akbars to take her oath as new LP member. She said Gov Jum Akbar will be taking her oath in August.
Cherrylyn joined 74 other local officials and sectoral leaders who were welcomed to the party by LP stalwarts Senator Franklin Drilon, former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr, and Quezon Rep Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada. They were sworn in at the LP headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.
She said there was no effort from Lakas to make them stay with the party.
The realignment was expected after Gov Akbar signed in June a peace covenant with acting Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov Mujiv Hataman.
The two families were previously locked in a violent dispute. The Akbars accused the Hatamans of masterminding the 2007 murder of Gov Akbar’s husband, then Basilan Rep Wahab Akbar.
He died after sustaining injuries in a bomb explosion at the South Wing Lobby of the House of Representatives in Quezon City.
President Benigno Aquino III himself was hands on in making sure the two families reconcile. He presided over a meeting between the two families in Malacañang. The Akbars have since dropped the murder charges they filed against the Hatamans in court.
LP secretary general Cavite Rep Joseph Emilio Abaya maintained that they are screening their new members very carefully.
“We will not follow the same template of the other parties, but that doesn’t mean that we will not organize. We have to strengthen and ensure that party building is guided by the liberal ideology,” Abaya said.
“Hindi lahat pwedeng pumasok at manumpa sa ating partido. We process applicants. We maintain character, expectations and standards set by the Party leaders,” Drilon added.
In his speech before the 75 new members, Tañada stressed that it’s crucial to make LP members win national and local elections to push for President Aquinio’s reform agenda. – Rappler.com
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