PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE –SPEAKER Prospero “Boy” Nograles Jr. yesterday blamed the continued silence of Vice President Noli de Castro about his political plans, forcing the administration coalition to search for an outsider that could be fielded as their standard-bearer, adding that their shortlist of its “acceptable” presidential candidates might be available by Easter Sunday.
Nograles, president of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), made this statement when he was asked why the administration is still searching for an outsider when De Castro and Defense Sec. Gilberto Teodoro were already named in the shortlist of administration candidates.
“In the first place, it is not a question of leading the survey, it’s a question first of do you want to run? I don’t know, he (De Castro) has not told me that he wants to run. Eh baka sabihin n’ya bigla. sige ako na lang. He has not told me personally that Mr. party president I am running for president,” Nograles told the weekly Usaping Balita media forum at Serye Restaurant in Quezon City Memorial Circle .
He admitted that the names of Sens. Manuel Villar of Nacionalista Party (NP) and Sens. Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Loren Legarda of the largely pro-administration Nationalists People’s Coalition (NPC) of business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco are also being considered in the shortlist.
The Speaker said “it’s not very easy for any person to decide to run for president knowing the problems facing us.”
At the same time, Nograles said the Lakas-CMD will have its shortlist of presidential candidates that are acceptable to the party by Easter Sunday, saying “time is very important so we cannot dilly dally anymore, we cannot procrastinate and we cannot take our sweet time.”
“So, therefore, we would have to act very fast. We should be able to firm up the selection process, at least the names acceptable to Lakas, by Easter Sunday. And then we would go to the cities… consult officials… liga ng governors, mayors… and give them the names so meron kaming idea on the ground kung sino ang napupusuan nila,” said Nograles.
He added: “So the selection process will not be dictatorial… it would be a bottom-up selection. After that, the vice president. After that, the senators.”
Nograles explained that his party would want to get a candidate from their ranks as much as possible like De Castro who ran for the vice presidency in 2004 under Lakas-CMD.
“Lakas must first choose among the allies within Lakas. Either you’re a Lakas member or a member of the Cabinet. Noli de Castro is mentioned because if you look at the certificate of candidacy of Noli, he filed his candidacy as part of Lakas. As far as we are concerned, he filed his certificate of candidacy under Lakas. The other one is (Defense Sec.) Gilbert Teodoro, a member of the Cabinet,” said Nograles.
The Speaker also named Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio, Local Waterworks and Utilities Administration (LWUA) administrator Prospero “Butch” Pichay and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri as the official spokesmen for the selection process of Lakas-CMD.