Mass defection: Andaya leads exodus to NPC
The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) on Friday welcomed into its fold almost 200 new members in the first “mass defection” to the country’s second largest party since Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero announced their 2016 ambitions this week.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. bolted Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats to take his oath as a member of the NPC on the strength of the party’s identification with Poe and Escudero, even as the party had yet to officially endorse the two senators.
“I’m here to show support for the tandem of Grace and Chiz,” he told reporters.
“Two days after [Poe made her announcement], we are here. What others have been waiting for—even though they won’t admit it—is happening now,” said Andaya, who served as former President Gloria Arroyo’s budget secretary.
On the other hand, Caloocan City Rep. Enrico “Recom” Echiverri, a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), made a surprise appearance at the event held inside the NPC clubhouse in New Manila, Quezon City. He, however, did not take an oath of loyalty to the party.
Pressed by reporters to explain his presence, Echiverri just laughed and explained that he only accepted an invitation by NPC chair Faustino Dy Jr. “to discuss some things.”
“I’m [still an LP member] now…Everything is on the table yet,” he said.
But Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao, the NPC president, said he was under the impression that Echiverri was joining the NPC after the latter “signified his intentions” to do so.
“We can always schedule a new oath taking once he says he’s ready,” he said.
‘Convergence of forces’
NPC secretary general Mark Llandro Mendoza, a representative from Batangas, described the gathering as both a “convergence” of forces and a “mass defection” of members of rival parties.
“This is just the start,” he said.
However, the list of new NPC members was not released to the media.
Mendoza said the party’s leadership was surprised by the high level of interest among local officials to join the 23-year-old NPC.
“Right after the announcement of Senators Grace and Chiz, many have been calling us. In the next few days, we will have more oath takings with local officials,” he said.
Short of making an official declaration, the NPC is widely expected to adopt Poe and Escudero, who are both independent, as its candidates in the 2016 elections. Escudero was an NPC member until he left the party in 2009.
After the ruling Liberal Party, the NPC has the most number of members nationwide at 2,000, including two senators, 50 House members, 20 governors, 20 city mayors and several hundred municipal mayors and councilors.
It was founded in 1992 by businessman Eduardo “Danding “Cojuangco Jr. to launch his unsuccessful run for the presidency.
From all parties
Mendoza said some of the new recruits were from the LP, the Nacionalista Party and the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The new NPC members are all local officials, including a governor, a vice governor and several mayors, vice mayors, and councilors, and come from Metro Manila, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Zamboanga.
At least four mayors from Batangas—Tonton Andal of Alitagtag, Jobel Hidalgo of Balete, Sofronio Ona of Calaca and Joel Portugal of Taysan—bolted the LP to join the NPC.
Aggabao, however, said the NPC was not out to poach the ranks of the LP and other political parties.
“We are not into raiding the membership of the other parties,” he said.
Asked if the presumption that NPC would adopt Poe and Escudero was attracting new members, he said: “I cannot answer for them but I think that’s a big factor.”
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