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Defections hit once powerful party in Vizcaya

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 11, 2012

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—The Nacionalista Party (NP) in Nueva Vizcaya is crumbling after the once dominant party in the province was deserted by its top leaders and several members.

The official list of candidates from the Commission on Elections showed that former NP stalwarts had filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) under rival parties, often going head-to-head with NP’s bets.

NP members, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said there is resentment within the party, and the remaining NP members have expressed dismay over the selection of the party’s official candidates for local positions.

“Many members were disappointed that the NP was not able to select a viable candidate for governor and other lower positions. The proposed alliance with [the Liberal Party (LP)] was also a failure,” said an NP member.

No reply

The INQUIRER tried to reach Rep. Carlos Padilla, NP provincial chair, but he did not respond to text messages on Wednesday.

But Board Member Epifanio Lamberto Galima, the party’s second highest-ranking elected official in the province, said: “Whatever their reasons, I respect [their decision to leave the party].”

Leading the NP deserters are Gov. Luisa Cuaresma, the party’s provincial president, and Vice Gov. Jose Gambito, provincial vice president, who are now running under the United Nationalist Alliance.

A three-term governor, Cuaresma filed her COC for representative to challenge Padilla, her political ally of 24 years.

Gambito, on his last term, is running for governor against NP candidate Pedro Algeria, a village chair in Solano town. Other aspirants are Donna Lyn Gerdan of the LP and Dionisio Laureta of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

The provincial NP, led by Padilla, failed to forge a coalition with the LP over supposed disagreements over common gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial candidates, an LP source here said.

The Nueva Vizcaya lawmaker was supposedly eyeing to field his wife, former Professional Regulations Commission Ruth Padilla, for the gubernatorial race. However, the LP had picked Florante Gerdan, Poro Point Management Corp. president, as its official coalition nominee.

Both LP and NP fielded separate candidates for governor and vice governor, as well as for provincial board members, Comelec records showed.

In vice gubernatorial contest, Galima is running against lawyer Edgardo Balgos, a former NP ally who is now running under UNA, Patricio Dumlao III of LP, and two other independent candidates.

In the race for provincial board, three incumbent board members are running for re-election under NP, three are under UNA, and one from LP.

The newly-formed line-ups confirmed the break-up of what was once the province’s dominant political party, which, until the last day of filing of COC’s on Friday, had to deal with an exodus of its members.

NP now only has four of the original 10 incumbent mayors, two of them running for re-election against former partymates. They are outnumbered by the five mayors who now with UNA, one of whom is running unopposed.

The NP does not have a candidate for mayor in five of Nueva Vizcaya’s 15 towns.

Last week, NP was hit by resignations from ranking officials over controversies surrounding party nominations for the vice gubernatorial contest between board members Galima and Maybelle Blossom Dumlao.

On Oct. 1, Galima filed his “irrevocable” resignation as NP member, but stayed with the party after he was prevailed upon by top NP leaders. He went on to obtain party nomination in a controversial party convention on Oct. 4, and filed his candidacy as NP candidate for vice governor the next day.

Disgruntled NP members, including a full municipal slate of NP members in Bagabag town led by mayor Nestor Sevillena, resigned and filed their COCs as candidates of rival parties.

In Solano, NP members led by re-electionists mayor Philip Dacayo and vice mayor Alexander Labasan, and a number of town councilors, filed their COCs as independent candidates.

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