MANILA, Philippines—The Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats is poised to endorse a mixed slate of senatorial candidates in the forthcoming May elections, and intends to be active in the campaign to strengthen the party in time for the 2016 polls where it plans to field its own presidential bet, according to the party’s vice chair Danilo Suarez.
Suarez said Lakas CMD would come up with its final list of senatorial candidates to endorse in its meeting next week.
But he said he himself would personally carry Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Milagros Magsaysay, Jack Enrile, and Francis Escudero, and endorse them to his local allies. Lakas may also consider these candidates as well, he said.
Magsaysay and Enrile are with the United Nationalist Alliance, Aquino is with the Liberal Party coalition, while Escudero is a common candidate of both parties.
The plan to endorse senatorial candidates would tie in with Lakas CMD’s plan, reached in a consensus last week, to actively participate in the campaign and vigorously push its own candidates, “to make sure Lakas will play a role in the coming presidential [elections],” Suarez said.
This is also a factor in the party’s impending leadership shakeup with the election of a new party president.
Suarez said Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez might replace Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. as the Lakas CMD President.
With Revilla’s son, wife, and brother running in the elections, the senator would be busy helping their campaign. Romualdez, on the other hand, is running unopposed and has a lot of time to go around and campaign for Lakas CMD’s candidates, according to Suarez.
He also said it would be to Revilla’s advantage if Lakas CMD could strengthen its presence in time for 2016, since Revilla could be a candidate for higher public office, possibly the presidency, in 2016.
Lakas CMD, the party of former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has lost some of the strength and the luster it had when it was the ruling party, but Suarez believes the political tide would eventually turn.
“Lakas members may be few now, but many from Lakas only transferred [to other parties] for political accommodation. As they say, by heart they are Lakas, by pocket, other parties,” he said.
Former President Arroyo has agreed with the plan to have Romualdez be the new party president and have him vigorously campaign for its bets, according to Suarez.
“She’s happy to hear that the intention of the new leaders would be to actively participate in the 2013 elections,” he said.