Ermita named Lakas-Kampi-CMD president

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE powerhouse Lakas Kampi-Christian-Muslim Democrats (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) has named its top-echelon executives signaling the start of a nationwide consolidation effort as the administration party takes the first serious step toward dominating next year’s synchronized local and national elections.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the party’s national chair as provided for in the Constitution and By-Laws ratified by party members last month, named Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as national president and 63 others to critical senior party posts.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos is the Lakas Kampi CMD chairman emeritus in recognition of his “unquestioned patriotism and unblemished commitment to the party’s principles and program of government.”

Speaker Prospero Nograles, the former Lakas CMD president, and Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, the former Kampi chairman, were named vice-chairmen. Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia is executive vice president and political adviser Gabriel Claudio is Secretary-general.

Named as the sixth highest ranking official of the party is Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia as executive vice president followed by Deputy Speaker Simeon Datumanong of Maguindanao as senior vice president for Internal Affairs, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte as senior vice president for External Affairs and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez as senior vice president for Finance.

All nine senior officers, along with 54 other officers, will serve in an interim capacity after being appointed by the President in whom the party’s constitution vested the power to constitute the new party leadership.

In a press conference, Belmonte said the President’s announcement of the top-echelon leadership signifies the start of a major party push to consolidate its membership from top to bottom and prepare to select its national and local candidates based on the most stringent set of criteria.

Belmonte said the President has “great confidence in the party’s new leaders and their ability to achieve our objectives,” adding, “We have a lot of work to do; the two parties’ merger was just the start.”

Ermita’s strength is his closeness to Mrs. Arroyo, being the “Little President” in Malacañang while Puno’s party position confirms his status as a serious contender for vice-president, shifting his role from being a complete campaign strategist and planner to a candidate raring to try his strength on the stump.