PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Banking on the economic gains of the administration, stalwarts of the Lakas-led ruling coalition yesterday predicted a runaway victory of its candidates in the May elections.
“The forthcoming polls would be a referendum on the Arroyo administration, which has made significant headway on the economic front that will enable the government to deliver ‘social payback’ to our people starting this year until 2010,” said Rep. Marcelo Libanan, the regional co-chairman of the Lakas-Christian and Muslim Democrats for Eastern Visayas.
He brushed aside the opposition’s claim that the forthcoming elections would be a “judgment day” for the Arroyo administration. Instead, it will be a plus factor for the Lakas-led ticket, because it would ride on the positive impact of the strong macroeconomic fundamentals that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her economic team had put in place since 2001.
Another plus factor, Libanan said, is that administration candidates are riding strong political machinery, run by majority of the country’s local chief executives down to the grassroots level to help them attain victory in the May elections.
Joining Libanan’s forecast was Senior Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Defensor, provincial chairman of the Lakas-CMD for Iloilo, who had similarly cited the rebounding economy on the Arroyo watch, in another public affairs program on ABS-CBN News Channel.
“The voters know that in order for President Arroyo to continue her good performance, they should elect people who will support the government and will not obstruct its policies and programs,” Libanan said. “Making the election a referendum for the Arroyo administration will be a positive factor because of the President’s efforts in achieving a more stable and prosperous country.”
Also present during the program was opposition lawyer Rufus Rodriguez, a spokesman of former President Joseph Estrada and leader of the Pwersa ng Masa.
Defensor re-affirmed Lakas’ strong ties with the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino and its other coalition partners such as the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the Liberal Party headed by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, and the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas.
Defensor said that in keeping with their strong partnerships, all coalition member-parties have agreed to adopt the “equity of the incumbent” principle in the selection of pro-administration candidates in the local level, regardless of whether they belong to Lakas, Kampi or its other coalition partners.
This means that all coalition partners will support the re-election bid of incumbent members of the House of Representatives or local executives in the provincial, city and municipal levels, regardless of their party affiliations.
“While there is an effort by Kampi to expand its membership, I don’t think there is a clear intent to decimate Lakas,” Defensor said. “There is a strong partnership between the two parties and the other coalition parties, and what is holding us together is our support for President Arroyo.”
Asked on Kampi’s active recruitment efforts, Defensor said the party is merely fortifying its party and it is not meant to contest Lakas’ strength as a political powerhouse and the country’s most dominant party.
Candidates fielded by Lakas, Kampi and the rest of the administration’s coalition partners at the local level would prove to be a key factor in helping seal the victory of its senatorial ticket in the May 14 elections considering that Lakas alone controls around 80 percent of all local positions and 40 percent of the House, Libanan said.