National team-up? Check. Local allies? On it.
Nacionalista Party (NP) President Sen Manny Villar is focusing on local recruitment after mending ties with his former bitter rival, President Benigno Aquino III, to secure a partnership with the ruling Liberal Party (LP) for the 2013 senatorial race.
Local leaders from Isabela took their oath with the NP on Tuesday, August 14.
Villar’s new partymates include Mallig Mayor Pedro Flores, Mallig Vice Mayor Jose Calderon, Benito Soliven Mayor Benjamin Sanglay, Naguilian Mayor Edgar Capuchino and eight municipal councilors of Isabela.
The officials took their oath before Villar, and fellow NP Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr andnew member Sen Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV.
In a statement, Villar said he is confident his new partymates will make a “strong showing” in the local polls.
“We are happy to welcome new members to the party. Many local leaders who share our vision and believe in our advocacies have expressed interest to join us. They will be taking their oaths in the coming days,” said Villar.
The recruitment of the Isabela leaders comes after Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez joined the NP last week.
Romualdez is the nephew of former First Lady and Ilocos Norte Rep Imelda Marcos, and a cousin of Senator Marcos. He is a member of the Romualdez political clan of Leyte.
The 105-year-old NP is the country's oldest political party.
How will LP alliance work out?
The NP will be fielding candidates in the local polls despite its alliance with the LP at the national level.
Villar is in talks with Aquino for the creation of an administration coalition including the LP, NP, and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) for the senatorial elections.
The NP has 4 potential senatorial bets: Villar’s wife, former Las Piñas Rep Cynthia Villar, Sen Alan Peter Cayetano, Trillanes and former Surigao del Norte Gov Robert Ace Barbers.
Mrs Villar, however, has said she expects problems in the coalition at the local level.
“Local politics is different. It is very emotional. While the coalition is for the senatorial candidates, there will be no problem but at the local level, it will pose a problem,” Mrs Villar told the Philippine Star in July.
LP stalwart Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad has said conflict at the local level may be inevitable, with 3 parties involved.
Abad said the administration coalition might declare some areas as free zones, where there will be no administration bet and candidates will just have to slug it out against each other.
“We will have an arbitration committee to resolve disputes but in cases where conflicts cannot be resolved, we will be forced to declare free zones,” Abad said last week.
Despite being bitter rivals for the presidency in 2010, Villar and Aquino agreed to join forces for 2013.
The two admitted that on their own, their respective parties cannot field a complete senatorial slate. They also need each other to save resources and ensure that the administration has support in Congress for its priority bills.