MANILA, Philippines – The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) of businessman Eduardo Cojuangco – the country's second biggest political party – may pick the presidential candidate it will support before President Benigno Aquino III announces his annointed one.
"NPC will decide on its own. We don't have a formal coalition with LP (Liberal Party). We are simply supportive of many of the initiatives of PNoy (Aquino). Should it happen that the two parties support different candidates, no coalition has been fractured," NPC acting president and Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao told Rappler. (READ: NPC: Formidable, reliable bloc vote)
Aquino said he will make the announcement after his last State of the Nation Address on July 27.
The President, chairman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said last week that he's talking to all presidential wannabes in an attempt to preserve the rainbow coalition he has built to push for his programs.
"I have a role in a personal capacity. I also have a role as a head of a coalition of so many different parties. One would want to preserve this coalition that led to our ability to deliver all that has been done these past 5 years," Aquino told reporters in Iloilo.
But NPC does not appear to be interested in staying with the coalition, downplaying their arrangement with the LP in the 2013 senatorial polls.
It is expected. While LP adopted NPC Senator Loren Legarda in the administration senatorial ticket, LP and NPC bets clashed in areas where LP refused to recognize the equity-of-the-incumbent rule, which means that the sitting official gets preference in being officially anointed and funded.
"During the last election, there was no nationwide coalition. In many districts, NPC and LP candidates faced off," Aggabao added. (READ: 'Pangasinan NPC is 100% behind PNoy, but not LP')
NPC machinery for Poe-Escudero?
NPC Senator Vicente Sotto III told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that NPC members are looking favorably on a possible tandem between independent senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero.
The President has also been talking to Poe about a possible 2016 run although it is not clear if the senator will be offered to become the administration's candidate for president or vice president. Her numbers in the polls continue to rise.
If Poe decides to run for president even without LP's support, the country's second biggest political party could provide the machinery she does not have, one of the factors weighing down on her decision.
While Aggabao said that the party has yet to discuss the 2016 elections, he acknowledged that senators Poe and Escudero are the "closest to NPC among presidential wannabes."
"The party has not met to discusss the presidential race. The statement by Senator Sotto is his own. It is true that Poe and Chiz are closest to NPC among the presidential wannabes. Until a decision has been reached, NPC as a party remains uncommitted," Aggabao said.
NPC spokesman Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said that the consultation process is ongoing. "We are still in the process of consulting our members. But it is true that Senator Grace and Senator Chiz are close to the party members of the NPC," he said.
Poe said that nothing definite has come out of her talks with Escudero.
"Sen Chiz and I have been friends. Yes, we talk about possibilities but for now, there's nothing certain," she told reporters last week.
NPC was earlier thought to be supporting Binay, largely because party stalwart Valenzuela City Representative Sherwin Gatchalian was among the first personalities to throw his support behind the vice president. He is running for senator under Binay's ticket.
Binay said last week that he is still hoping to enter into a coalition with the NPC. – Rappler.com