SENATOR Grace Poe’s entry into the 2016 presidential race has led at least 200 local officials from various political parties—mostly from the ruling Liberals—to jump ship to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), which is likely to back her candidacy, party officials said Friday.
Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza, NPC secretary general, said the local officials from different parts of the country took their oath Friday as new members of the NPC, the country’s second largest political party.
Mendoza said they were surprised at the apparent mass defection of many local officials to the NPC, following the announcement of the team-up between Poe and Senator Francis Escudero for 2016.
“This is the start,” Mendoza said. “We were surprised because right after the announcement of Poe and Escudero, so many local officials called us wanting to move to the NPC.”
Mendoza said they expect more defections as the NPC flexes its political muscles in preparation for the 2016 elections.
“Next week, there will be more defections as NPC leaders move to the provinces for oath taking,” he added. This week’s defections were mostly from Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Camarines and Metro Manila, he said.
Mendoza said the political party founded by businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. was also in talks with the Nacionalista Party and the National Unity Party for a possible coalition.
So far, NPC chairman Faustino Dy said, the party has yet to make an official stand on who they will support in 2016.
“The party will support whoever will help the poor,” Dy said in Filipino before the oath taking ceremony.
“At the moment, we still don’t have a position on who we will support, but we should be united when the executive committee of the party decides,” he added.
Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, NPC president, maintained that majority of the party members support Poe and Escudero.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, former member of the administration party, echoed Aggabao’s sentiment.
“This is a strong message on where the heart of the party really is,” Andaya said. “A lot of people are supporting Senator Grace. The message is out there. No need to say it out loud.”
Andaya said that Poe’s 20-point agenda which she presented during her proclamation, was a manifestation of her sincerity, seriousness and willingness to deliver.
“The fight still has a long way to go. But when you come into a long campaign and you already have a plan of programs you want to push for on Day 1, it shows your willingness to serve. The rest have long declared their candidacies but they have yet to present an agenda. All we have heard from them are slogans,” Andaya said.
The Palace said Friday it was unfazed by the exodus of Liberal Party members to the NPC.
“The thrust of the President is not personality politics,” said deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte.
During a press briefing in Malacañang, she also said President Benigno Aquino III was more focused on pushing for his Daang Matuwid (straight path) platform of government.
“And also, if you look at the history of every major election that we’ve had, you will always see shifts in the landscape of your political parties,” Valte added. “You see that in every election.”
“But what is important for the President and his chosen candidate is that they continue to argue and to discuss based on programs and policies,” she said.
Poe topped the Magdalo party-list survey of almost 3,000 respondents for president in the 2016 elections. She was followed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
No information was given about who conducted the survey or what its margin of error was.
The Magdalo party-list group is mostly made up of former mutineers led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
The group Philippines Trends reported that over 15-million people online lifted Poe to the top of trending topics on the Twitter social network with the hashtag #POE2016 as she announced her bid to run for president.
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