Lakas, Kampi merge

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE merger of the two biggest political parties in the country – Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino – did happen as planned but obviously without the unanimous blessings of the parties’ elders.

The merged parties are now formally known as the Lakas Kampi CMD.

Former Lakas-CMD’s chairman emeritus and former president Fidel Ramos; former vice president for National Capital Region and Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando; and former Kampi president Rep. Luis Villafuerte did not attend the formalization of the merger held at the Manila Hotel yesterday.

Vice President Noli de Castro and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, though not members of either Lakas or Kampi, were present because they were invited.

A source close to Ramos said the former president decided not to attend the merger meeting because he was “not happy with the process.” Ramos is expected to hold a press conference today to explain his absence.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio said they were expecting Ramos’ presence as the latter even notified them of his arrival shortly before the start of yesterday’s event.

Claudio said the joint meeting of the merged party was even reset from May 21 to May 28 to ensure that Ramos, who had previous commitments abroad would be able to grace the event. Ramos just arrived from the United States early yesterday morning.

Ermita said Fernando, being a Lakas official need not be invited and was also expected to attend the event. But Fernando was having his program at government-run Radyo ng Bayan simultaneous with the Manila Hotel event. His wife Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando was present.

On the other hand, Villafuerte who had previously resigned as president of Kampi, had expressed his opposition to the merger.

Fernando had made known his intention to seek the presidency under the administration party. But it seems the more resounding clamor is to field either De Castro or Teodoro as the merged party’s standard bearer.

Yesterday also marked the first joint meeting of the merged party during which at least five resolutions were approved. These are the resolutions declaring the merger of Lakas CMD and Kampi to give rise to unified political party called Lakas-Kampi CMD; approving and ratifying the Constitution and by-laws of Lakas Kampi and declaring its immediate effectivity; affirming the authority of the national chairperson, President Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint the interim members of the national executive committee of the Lakas Kampi CMD; and committing to abide by and support the party’s choice and selection of national candidates to lead the party to victory on the 2010 synchronized national and local elections.

A resolution commending the President for successfully stirring the country towards economic resiliency amidst the global economic crisis and expressing strong support for her continuing efforts to achieve sustained national progress and development was also passed.