No outsider for LP in 2016 presidential elections
MANILA, Philippines–The ruling Liberal Party (LP) is not looking to field an outsider in the 2016 presidential race—at least not yet.
LP secretary general and Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said Tuesday the party was considering only its members thus so far in discussions on its prospective standard bearer in 2016.
As to a winning candidate on its roster, he told a press conference: “There is. We have a deep bench.”
“Of course, our presumptive candidate remains to be [Interior Secretary] Mar Roxas,” he said. Sarmiento would not name the others on the “deep bench” even when prodded by reporters.
In surveys, Roxas has been lagging behind other possible presidential contenders, including front-runner Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Poe and ousted president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
“Right now, only members of the party are under consideration,” Sarmiento said.
He said President Aquino’s recent remarks expressing an interest in a second term should be construed only as the Chief Executive’s wish that the gains of his administration be continued by the next one.
“It doesn’t mean he needs to run again—but how he will be able to sustain the reform program even after his term has ended,” Sarmiento said.
“I have my own views, but it’s hard to talk about my views, as they’ll be misconstrued as the position of the LP,” he said.
But “we are looking at the Constitution and we respect the Constitution,” he admitted.
“What we want is to hear the sentiments of the people, to determine what we can do to ensure that the gains will continue. This doesn’t mean we will tinker with the Constitution. That’s why we’re now involving the bosses,” he said.
Sarmiento said one problem with the country was that every change in administration brought changes in the vision of the leadership.
“There has to be a strategic direction… when your term ends, in my case I was a mayor, the strategic direction should not stop,” he said. Sarmiento was elected mayor of Calbayog City in 2001.
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