2022 Philippine Elections

Political parties delay alliance agreement with HNP over contentious provision

Rambo Talabong

UNDECIDED. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte speaks at an event in April 2020.

Davao City Facebook Page

(1st UPDATE) The provision involves how the coalition's presidential candidate will be chosen

Despite earlier announcements of forging an alliance with presidential daughter Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), several national political parties are delaying signing the draft agreement with the regional party over a contentious provision.

The provision gives HNP the sole authority to choose a presidential candidate for the coalition, and the other parties are expected to support that choice without any questions, according to a copy of the draft agreement obtained by Rappler.

“Both parties agree to give their full and unqualified support to the presidential candidate to be selected by HNP,” Section 2 of the draft agreement said.

The leader of one of the partner parties told Rappler the provision was “unilateral,” and it didn’t sit well with established national parties that a newly formed regional party was practically giving them orders.

HNP sent other political parties the draft agreement as early as May 2021, but none of them have signed:

  1. Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats – led by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
  2. National Unity Party – led by political strategist Ronaldo Puno
  3. Nacionalista Party – oldest political party in the Philippines, led by former Senate president Manuel Villar Jr.
  4. Pwersa ng Masa Pilipino – founded by former president Joseph Estrada
  5. People’s Reform Party – founded by the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

Not even Lakas-CMD, which prides itself in being the first to reach out to HNP, has signed an agreement. Rappler learned that a signing ceremony was scheduled earlier, but was postponed, allegedly over the disputed provision.

In a text message to Rappler on Tuesday evening, however, Lakas-CMD president and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said Lakas-CMD was not among the parties that took issue with the provision. He said the postponement of their signing was due to a “scheduling issue.”

HNP’s secretary general Anthony del Rosario confirmed this delay to Rappler.

“There are parties that are agreeable to that provision, but there are also some [that] would prefer a provision that requires mutual consent from both parties with regards to the choice of president,” Del Rosario told Rappler in a call on Tuesday, July 20.

“That’s the reason why our signing is getting delayed because we have not come out with a final MOA (memorandum of agreement) that is acceptable to all parties concerned,” Del Rosario said.

Another provision of the draft agreement essentially bans allied parties from fielding their own candidates in the entire Davao Region, which is the home base of HNP.

“[Allied party] shall not field local candidates for Region XI and shall consider all HNP candidates as their supporters within the region,” Section 5 of the provision reads.

Del Rosario said no political party has taken issue with this provision.

Now, HNP is working on an HNP-led multi-party agreement, instead of multiple bilateral agreements.

“What we want is one signing ceremony with all parties involved. Hindi p’wedeng isa-isa  (We can’t do it one by one). We want everybody to have to sign the same document,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario added that some parties expressed concern about contending for local posts. For example, one of the questions HNP wants to answer is what if the candidates of two or more ally parties vied for the same position? HNP still has to sort this out.

The call for alliances came after HNP’s chairperson, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, ranked first in 2022 election surveys. Most recently, she topped Pulse Asia’s June 2021 survey, even enjoying a double-digit lead against other potential presidential bets.

Duterte is still undecided whether she will run for president. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.