MANILA, Philippines—The Liberal Party has no gubernatorial candidate for Rizal, party officials said Wednesday in the wake of remarks made by Steve Salonga, the son of party elder, the former Senate President Jovito Salonga, that the ruling party had abandoned him in favor of another candidate.
According to Samar Rep. Mel Sarmiento, the LP secretary-general, because of the dynamics of Rizal’s local politics, the party decided to forego fielding any gubernatorial bet in the province despite the candidacy of Salonga’s son, who is an LP member.
“The party makes decisions on who should be its candidates in certain areas based on careful scrutiny of their qualifications, track record, organizational capability, as well as their ability to sustain a campaign,” Sarmiento said in a statement.
Last week, Steve Salonga, 64, deplored what he said were the “disturbing and aggressive alliances” with dynasties, warlords and traditional politicians that the LP has been forging, particularly at the local level. He said his father, when he was still well, had questioned this but his phone calls and letters had been ignored by the party.
He gave as an example the gubernatorial race in Rizal, where he is running as an independent against what he claimed was the LP candidate for governor there, Rebecca Ynares, who comes from a family whose members already hold five elective positions in the province.
Gladys Sta. Rita, an LP director, said the party did not issue a certificate of nomination and acceptance for any gubernatorial candidate in Rizal.
But even more than local politics, the LP had to take into consideration the future of the reform agenda of President Aquino, particularly his daang matuwid (straight path) campaign, said Sarmiento.
“This requires that, at both the local and national levels, the party’s candidates should be committed to this reform agenda of inclusive growth and good governance. This is the reason why the LP enters into temporary alliances or coalitions with certain individuals and political formations,” he said.
Sarmiento said the LP acknowledges the contributions of the elder Salonga “not only to the party but [also] to the nation as a whole.”
“We consider him an elder statesman whose contributions to nation-building have been immense. The party will always be grateful to him for his able and competent leadership of it over the years,” he said.
The ailing former Senate president, who is now 92, is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and has been bedridden since suffering a stroke last year.
Sarmiento said the LP understood the younger Salonga’s position.
“We wish him all the best in his candidacy,” he said.