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Echiverri, others join LP ranks
In The Press Posted on November 18th, 2009.
Caloocan City Mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri formally took his oath last Thursday as member of the Liberal Party (LP) in front of thousands of his supporters witnessed by LP presidential bet Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino Jr.
Speaking to more than 20,000 supporters gathered at the covered court of Phase 1, Bagong Silang in the city's Bukid area, the city mayor said his decision to change political party is not influenced by any group or political consideration but his belief in the qualities of Senator Aquino to lead the country.
Before his transfer to LP, Echiverri is a stalwart of the ruling Lakas-CMD having been one of the original Lakas members in the city.
He briefly left Lakas-CMD during the 2004 elections and supported the presidential bid of the late Fernando Poe Jr., but returned to the ruling party after winning the mayoralty elections.
Caloocan City is the third largest city in Metro Manila in terms of voting population and his defection to LP is expected to further boost the chances of Aquino and his running mate Senator Mar Roxas.
Considered as his biggest political decision, Echiverri defended his move saying that he has made local history by garnering the highest number of votes in the last two consecutive mayoralty elections.
Joining the mayor in transferring to LP are Vice Mayor Luis Varela, District I councilors Susan Punzalan, Gualberto Bacolod, Nora Nubla, Dante Prado, Ramon Te and Melinda Mabagos, and District II councilors Luis Abel, Alex Aruelo, Ernesto Cunanan, and Marjorie Barretto.
Echiverri said his decision to support Senator Nonoy Aquino stemmed out of his very high respect for the LP standard bearer and what he brings for the good of the entire country.
In Valenzuela, two well-known political personalities, including the "girlfriend of presidential aspirant Senator Aquino have joined the LP signalling political realignment in the northern metro city.
Former vice mayor Evelyn "Jing" Hernandez, the city's local LP chairman, said the party will hold in a few days a general meeting to finalize the transfer of Councilor Shalani "Lani" Soledad and vice mayor Eric Martinez to the party.
Both local chapters of LP and the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), however, insisted that Soledad and Martinez did not resign from NPC but from Lakas-CMD which is the party of the two local officials.
"In the first place, Soledad and Martinez never took oath as NPC members when they pledged their support to Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian early this year," a city official who requested anonymity said.
The transfer of the two politicians is expected to further tighten political alignments in the city local politics as Hernandez, Martinez and Soledad are known supporters of Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian.
"The local LP is hoping that the transfer of the two officials will help not only the local chapter of the party but the at the national level as well," Hernandez said.
Mayor Gatchalian, a stalwart of Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) and his brother NPC spokesman Congresman Rex Gatchalian, are expected throw their support behind the candidacy of Senator Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP).
Hernandez, however, said that they will continue to support the Gatchalians although they will campaign for another presidential candidate.
Negotiations for an alliance between the LP and leftist partylist lawmakers collapsed Wednesday night when Aquino virtually rejected the inclusion of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza to the LP senatorial slate.
Together with their respective advisers, Aquino and Ocampo met Wednesday night to discuss proposals for an alliance in the 2010 elections but the discussions ended with the senator informing the former communist front spokesman that the list of “applicants” to the LP senatorial list is more than double the number of slots available.
“Mukhang remote na magkasama kami,” Ocampo told reporters during the Usaping Balita News Forum in Quezon City.
But Ocampo aired the belief that Aquino is still harboring a grudge over disagreements between the Left and the Aquino family in the past, including the massacre of farmers at Hacienda Luisita which was blamed on the Aquino-Cojuangco families.
In Cebu City, supporters and political leaders coming from the different cities and municipalities of Cebu Province, have formally took their oath last Wednesday, as members of the LP.
Among those who took their official oath as LP members were former senator John H. Osmeña, former congressman and now Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez, Jr. former congresswoman Clavel Asas Martinez, and son Celestino Martinez III, former third district congressman Antonio Yapha, provincial board member Victoria Corominas, former Danao City Mayor Jesus “Don” Durano, former Sogod vice mayor Dean Severo Dosado, Consolacion Mayor Avelino Gungob, Sr., and former Consolacion Vice mayor Teresa Alegado.