MANILA, Philippines - When local rivalries run deep, it affects even the national slate.
The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) may be allied with other parties on the national level under the administration slate Team PNoy, but NPC local leaders have repeatedly said they are not endorsing the full administration ticket.
The latest dissenter is 3rd district Camarines Sur Rep Luis Villafuerte, who is running for governor.
A powerful force behind NPC in Camarines Sur, Villafuerte told reporters on Sunday, May 5, that the NPC members from the province will not support Team PNoy but the opposition, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
The NPC is allied with the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and the Nacionalista Party (NP) among others for the senatorial slate.
Villafuerte expressed displeasure over the LP fielding candidates against NPC bets on the local level, but he didn't spare the NP either. The 77-year-old specifically said NP bets Sen Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen Antonio Trillanes, and former Las Piñas Rep Cynthia Villar will not get NPC's support.
NPC is largely the dominant party in the province, with most sitting mayors NPC members. NP is the second largest, while LP is the most weak. But the LP is fielding a candidate against Villafuerte for governor, former solicitor general Anselmo Cadiz, and bets for congressmen in 4 of 5 districts -- including Leni Robredo, the wife of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo for the 3rd district. Leni is running against Villafuerte's wife Nelly, whom he pushed to seek office.
NPC's refusal to support NP candidates is also understandable with Villafuerte running against his 24-year-old grandson Migz Villafuerte, a Nacionalista member. Luis' son and Migz's father LRay, incumbent governor of the province who is running for 2nd district representative against incumbent congressman and NPC member Dato Arroyo, is also an NP member. Luis and LRay have barely spoken for almost a decade because of a family feud.
Far from 12-0
Villafuerte is not the only NPC local leader who has said they would not vote for all of Team PNoy's bets.
As early as February, former congressman Mark Cojuangco, the President's cousin and the NPC founder's son, made headlines when he announced NPC's support for its members and honorary members who are running for senator regardless of the slate they belong to.
He said since there are already 5 of them -- Team PNoy's Legarda and Chiz Escudero, UNA's Enrile and Ernesto Maceda, and independent Ed Hagedorn -- and there are only 7 remaining slots, some of the administration's candidates will inevitably be excluded from the NPC sample ballots. Cojuangco pointed out that LP has also failed to honor the NPC-LP partnership, fielding former Alaminos mayor Hernani Braganza against NPC's re-electionist Amado Espino for governor of Pangasinan despite their coalition on the national level.
Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III also echoed Cojuangco in saying NPC had never agreed to backing 12-0 for Team PNoy. He said NPC would support Legarda, and UNA's Enrile, Maceda and re-electionist Gringo Honasan.
He also expressed displeasure over recent attacks on Legarda -- reportedly orchestrated by a fellow Team PNoy bet -- accusing her of trying to conceal her wealth in her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth. He said the black propaganda is "all the more making us (NPC) unsupportive of the coalition with NP and LP."
But the NPC's voice has been more confusing than united.
In a statement released by NPC spokersperson Rex Gatchalian on Monday, May 6, he too expressed sadness over the alleged smear campaign over Legarda "as they have given their full support and commitment to all the senatorial bets under the banner of Team PNoy."
Gatchalian, however, gave assurances the LP-NPC partnership remains intact.
“We are cognizant of the fact that the senatorial bets under Team Pnoy come from various parties, but nevertheless we are committed in fully supporting the coalition,” Gatchalian said.
In March, Team PNoy spokesperson Quimbo admitted to feeling concern over NPC's possible dropping of certain Team PNoy bets on its sample ballot, but said they expect support from the coalition's allies even on the local level.
"We expect our local candidates who campaign against a party which is a member of the coalition, will still carry the national candidates," he said. "We expect our local slate will support the national coalition, and we expect NPC and NP to do the same."
With the elections just a week away however, and despite assurance from the national NPC, it is increasingly clear expectations from both sides were not met.
Originally, the NPC's informal partnership with LP meant the NPC will tap its political machinery to support the entire administration ticket and commit to support the remaining years of the Aquino administration. For NPC, the LP agreed not to field candidates in some of its bailiwicks and instead support NPC candidates -- neither of which were faithfully fulfilled. - Rappler.com