Panlilio group asks Roxas to join primaries

I thought of this last week, and I am glad to be proven correct. I see here a realignment of forces between Kaya Natin's reformist bloc and the Liberal Party of Mar Roxas. Forget the Lito what's his name bloc of the LP. It's been flushed down the toilet bowl.

I am happy about the Kaya Natin-LP alliance, since LP -- the party to which I now belong -- has a long tradition of being reform-minded. Now, if only this streak of reformism burns brightly and turns into action in 2010, then Senator Roxas as presidential candidate, with Governor Among Ed Panlilio or Governor Grace Padaca as Vice-Presidential timber, will have a strong chance in the 2010 elections.

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By Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:34:00 03/27/2009

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Manuel Roxas II is being asked to join a US-style popularity contest that will select the standard-bearer of a political reform movement in the 2010 presidential election.

Governors Ed Panlilio of Pampanga and Grace Padaca of Isabela are among those who are being encouraged to participate in a selection process similar to a primary, the system for choosing the presidential candidates of the Republicans and Democrats in the United States.

Roxas, Panlilio and Padaca were scheduled to meet Thursday night at the Roxas residence, called “Bahay na Puti” (White House), in Quezon City.

Harvey Keh, lead convenor of Kaya Natin!, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Thursday that the meeting was arranged by Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, one of the founders of the movement for good governance and ethical leadership.

Keh said that the objective of the meeting was to invite Roxas, who also plans to run for president, to subject himself to the primary process.

He said that third-party groups like those of Alex Lacson, who wrote the popular “12 Little Things every Filipino Can Do to Help our Country,” Fr. Carmelo Diola of the Cebu-based Dilaab Foundation and Bro. IJ Gonzaga’s Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan had expressed interest in organizing the primary process.

“They will create the process. And then we will go to different groups and see who they would want to represent them as president. For example, if they want Governor Padaca, Kaya Natin! and our other allied groups will rally around her. We hope to finish the process by July,” Keh said.

Uniting reform groups

Panlilio, a Catholic priest, captured the Filipinos’ imagination in 2007 when he wrested the governorship of Pampanga from Gov. Mark Lapid and Board Member Lilia Pineda, wife of alleged “jueteng” (illegal numbers game) lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda.

Padaca, a former broadcast journalist, won the governorship of Isabela province over the Dy family, which has lorded it over Isabela politics for four decades.

“What we want is to unite the reform constituency and Senator Roxas is allied with many reform groups and many of our friends. We are all working for a common cause, that is why we would want him to join the nomination process,” Keh said.

“If he comes out the winner in the nomination process, then we will support him.”

Keh said in a phone interview that Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Bagong Pilipinas party had been invited to join the process. He said Villanueva would first consult with his party.

Villanueva, head of the Jesus Is Lord Movement, ran for president in 2004. He is expected to announce another bid for the presidency on March 28.

Pledges of support

Keh said that Kaya Natin! continued to receive pledges of support for a Panlilio-Padaca ticket for 2010, bolstering his belief that the silent majority of Filipinos wanting genuine change in 2010 were starting to speak out.

“I just got this e-mail from somebody from Dubai who asked me to accept his humble pledge of P20,000. He said it was a sacrifice he had to make to help bring about new politics,” Keh recounted.

“Another person from Bulacan offered the free use of his Internet cafĂ© for the reform movement,” he said. “What these are telling me is that there really is a constituency and that so-called silent majority wants change.”

Panlilio, 55, has been in office for just under two years, but he has been lauded for raising government revenues in Pampanga province, including a ten-fold increase in takings from the notoriously corrupt sand quarrying operations in the area.

“If we can project ourselves well and we have a platform that is appealing to the people, if we become close to the people and they believe in us … it will catch on like wildfire,” said Panlilio, who has said he is open to contesting the presidency but has not made up his mind.

Embracing advocacy

“But if we fail to do that, if the people do not embrace our advocacy, then this will fizzle out,” Panlilio told Reuters.

Dressed in a well-worn white polo shirt and brown slacks, the governor comes across in sharp contrast to other prospective presidential candidates, who include four senators, the defense secretary and the Vice President.

Farmers, student groups and civil society organizations are backing Panlilio, and suggest he run with Padaca as his vice presidential candidate.

Panlilio and Padaca are regarded as nontraditional candidates and analysts say their popularity is a reflection of public disgust at corruption in the administrations of Ms Arroyo and of her predecessor Joseph Estrada. With a report from Reuters

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