Speaking before the members of the Lakas-CMD expanded executive committee caucus here, the President appointed presidential adviser on political affairs Gabriel Claudio to head the committee.
“This committee shall pursue the merger with Kampi and such alliances with other political parties and groups the interest of the administration coalition and which, with our merged party, shall be responsible for determining and activating the criteria and mechanism for choosing candidates for 2010,” the President said.
“Let the findings and recommendations of that committee of Gabby (Claudio) reflect the mind and voice of our membership down to the grassroots level. Let us look to our members in the grassroots and our people for inspiration. Let their cause be our motive for working, for striving, and for winning in 2010,” she also said.
At a press briefing after the President left to inspect projects in various parts of Pampanga, former congressman Prospero Pichay, who acted as spokesman during the caucus, cited the names of Vice Pres. Noli de Castro as among the possible candidates that a merged Lakas-CMD and Kampi could field in the 2010 presidential elections.
In an interview later, however, Claudio said that talks of who should be common administration candidate for president can only be done after a successful Lakas-CMD and Kampi merger.
While saying that the criteria for choosing a presidential standard bearer had yet to be finalized, Pichay cited some criteria being considered included sensitivity to the needs of the people, support for the economic policies of the administration, and winnability.
Pichay said that the President wants a merger of both administration parties at both local and national levels.
Pichay, however, admitted that merging the two parties would be difficult, noting that the differences between their members are “personal and not ideological”.
“It is difficult to reconcile people who fought each other in the last elections,” he noted. In the 2007 elections, Lakas-CMD and Kampi fielded candidates against each other all over the country.
He said that local leaders of the two parties would have to be convinced to agree to the merger.
Still, Pichay said that Lakas-CMD will remain the dominant party in the event that the merger does not materialize. He noted that in the House of Representatives, Lakas- CMD has 92 members as against Kampi’s only 40, while at the local level, Lakas-CMD has about 1,000 mayors as against Kampi’s 100 and 42 Lakas-CMD governors as against Kampi’s only 10.
Pichay also belied reports that former Pres. Fidel Ramos, who attended the caucus, was against the merger.
Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez, who is chairman of Lakas-CMD in Central Visayas, said he was optimistic that the two major administration parties would eventually merge, noting that members of both parties regard the President as their head.
Pichay said he and other Lakas-CMD members had earlier suggested to the President to talk to Kampi party to agree to the merger. “But she has not done it yet because of the global (economic) meltdown,” he added.