No Lapid-Pineda tandem

    LUBAO, Pampanga—The dream team that Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid wants to form for his gubernatorial comeback in Pampanga in 2010 went kaput.

    The plan went down the drain as Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda on Thursday confirmed he has rejected the proposal of Lapid to be his running mate.

    Pineda said he shot down the offer “out of principles.”

    “In the 2004 elections, I agreed to ally with the senator’s son (former Gov. Mark Lapid) because they promised me they would improve the quarry collections. They did not deliver on their promise, which was why my mother (Lilia) ran against Mark in 2007,” Pineda said.

    He said he was not “comfortable” running with Lapid whose records in quarry collections had proved to be low. 

    “If I’m going to run as vice governor, it would be with Yeng (basketball coach and Vice Gov. Joseller Guiao). Another option is I run for governor if the party (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino) approves of it,” the mayor said.

    Pineda is on his third and final term as mayor. He has chaired the Pampanga Mayors’ League in the last six years. He is the eldest son of alleged jueteng lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda and wedding godson of President Macapagal-Arroyo.

    Speaking through his spokesperson Bernie Cruz, the senator said he respected the mayor’s decision.

    “OK mu. Prerogative na ita. Basta aku, tagal kung governor (That’s OK. That’s his prerogative. No matter what, I’m running as governor),” Cruz quoted the senator as saying.

    According to Cruz, Lapid has started scouting for another running mate. Cruz declined to name the likely replacement.

    Lapid, he added, has all the room since he remains the provincial chair of the Lakas-CMD. Lapid, a movie actor, began his political career as vice governor in 1992, becoming governor in 1995 until 2004. Mark, his eldest son, succeeded him but was defeated by Eddie Panlilio, a Catholic priest.

    The shattered alliance of Lapid and Pineda is seen to signal that Lakas-CMD and Kampi will again come to head in the coming local elections.

    Cruz said Lapid had informed President Macapagal-Arroyo of his gubernatorial plan a month ago during the birthday party of the husband of Sen. Miriam Santiago.

    Aside from Pineda and Guiao, Lapid may pit himself against City of San Fernando Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

    Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo (2nd District) and Gov. Eddie Panlilio have not yet finalized their options.


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